Veterans receive support on campus

Six campus organizations united to host the second annual Veterans and Families Welcome Back Luncheon Wednesday at the A.D. Bruce Religion Center to honor the UH community members who have served their country.

The luncheon also provided veterans and their families with information about the on-campus services available to them.

"This is our second year doing this," Allen Grundy, program coordinator of the UH Veterans Services Office, said.

"This year, we had roughly 120 people attend whereas last year we had about 150."

Grundy said that he wishes veterans would utilize the UH services.

"The need is getting greater and greater because now we find many veterans are coming out of the military service – 30 percent with mental problems, 15 percent are unemployed and the median age of this group is 29 years old. And they have other responsibilities like families, part-time jobs," Grundy said.

Veterans in that demographic have plenty of responsibilities and should take care of themselves and re-adjust to civilian life, he said.

"People forget that they see the uniform and they get distasteful about the situation," Grundy said. "They’re in a war and have to be prepared – sharp and ready for anything – and when they get back here in a relaxed situation they have to adjust, and it just takes time. Not only a change in the body, but a change in the mind."

One of the luncheon’s guest speakers, Army Lt. Col. Anthony Landry, a UH ROTC professor, thanked campus organizations for putting on the event and recognizing the veterans on campus.

"Many times we find ourselves isolated in a military installation, and we become our own family," Landry said. "We come together, we know each other, we think alike. Many times, we come back to a community like this, and we’re like a fish out of water.

This year, booths for campus organizations, including the UH Center for Students with Disabilities and UH Counseling and Psychological Services, lined the first floor of the A.D. Bruce Religion Center so that veterans could stop by and get more in-depth information.

"Our job is to supply veterans with information that will give them a better idea of what services are on campus that can assist them in their transition," Grundy said. "It may include psychological career services for those that are unemployed."

The luncheon also provided service men and women the opportunity to meet other veterans.

"I just came by to show my face, meet a couple of people and introduce myself," economics senior Sam Anderson said.

Anderson, a former Navy culinary specialist in the third class, said he hopes student veterans will use the luncheon as an opportunity to learn about the available on-campus services.

"I think (the luncheon) will bring more awareness (so) that people will know and take advantage of the benefits you can get," Anderson said. "There’s a lot here that people don’t know."

Political science junior Chris Webb, who served in the Army as staff sergeant, is working for the Veterans Services Office so he can help other student veterans.

Webb said that he wants people to realize the role that veterans play.

"However cynical you may be about ongoing wars and government, just don’t forget those fighting the war are real people," Webb said.

The event was hosted by the UH Staff Council and the Veterans, Troops and Family Support Committee. The committee is comprised of UH Center for Student with Disabilities, UH Counseling and Psychological Services, University Career Services, the Campus Ministers Association, and the Veterans Services Office.

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