New resource center opened to help student veterans

September, 11, 2019 | Jill Bold | campus editor

A physical location for student veterans services now exists on NE Campus.

Photo by Joseph Serrata/The Collegian
NE students Jamie Waschka and Courtney Lambert chat with veterans at the new center. The center’s goal is to provide assistance and networking opportunities for veterans.

The Veterans Center Open House event welcomed students on Sept. 4, allowing them to become acquainted with the new space, NLIB 1143A. This event also offered students a chance to network with other veterans, advisors, and administrators.

“We realized how messed up it was that a place like [TCC NE] didn’t have a place for veterans to come … a physical place for them to congregate and come for help.”

Jamie Waschka

In the three years that the Student Veterans Association program has existed, the group of students and infrastructure needed for this organization has grown through the efforts of many individuals, said Christopher Hunt, counselor at the NE Veterans Resource Center. Having a center for the students was the final hurdle to overcome.

The solution to the problem emerged from four students — Courtney Lambert, Jamie Waschka, James Cutler, and Brittany Williams — in the Social Problems course, led by sociology professor Murray Fortner last fall.

Assigned to explore the issue of veterans in higher education, students first determined that veterans needed this space after Cutler explained the situation to his group. They followed through on their plans from the initial petition signed by 644 individuals in the community, all the way through to the completion of the meeting room in summer 2019.

Prior to the room’s renovation, it stood as an unused classroom. Now, chairs and coffee tables form a sitting area in the center of the room where students can relax and study.

Lambert and Waschka attended the event to meet the veterans they aim to help. They both described their reasons for taking on this project.

Photo by Joseph Serrata/The Collegian
NE academic advisor Katherine Trostle uses her laptop at the opening of the new veteran’s center in NLIB 1143A on NE Campus.

“We have the highest number of enrolled veterans than any other campus here, and yet we were the only one who didn’t have a veterans center,” Lambert said.

Both women sit in the lounge chairs conversing with Jimmy, smiling and reminiscing about coming together to create this space, celebrating its completion and remembering how Jimmy’s words explaining the veteran student’s needs impacted them initially,

“We realized how messed up it was that a place like [TCC NE] didn’t have a place for veterans to come … a physical place for them to congregate and come for help because it’s a different kind of help that they need. Jimmy was a big part in explaining that to us,” Waschka said.

“It was really eye-opening. We appreciated that,” Cutler said of the efforts of these non-veteran students.

Hunt is grateful for the support on all levels, from the students who brought this room together to the NE president Ayers and the administration on campus. 

“They all have the back of the veterans … solid, 100%,” Hunt said.