The Veterans Resource Center has a new home at South Campus.
This is a bigger location than their previous offices in business services. In addition to staff offices, the new resource center has a kitchenette, a study room, a lounge and several computers for student veterans to use. South president Daniel Lufkin gave a speech detailing the significance of the center’s location in the Jenkins Garrett library.
Chris Hunt, a former NE veterans counselor, was there to cut the ribbon to officially dedicate SLIB 2215A to Jewish war veterans as part of the opening of the new offices.
The Jewish war veterans in attendance were representatives from Martin Hochster Post 755. Post Commander Phil Kabakoff, Sr. Vice Commander department of TALO Ron Sivernell and post member Barry Schneider.
They are part of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.. JWV is the longest running veteran service organization in the country. It was founded in 1896 by 63 Jewish war Civil War veterans.
“We [JWV] started after the Civil War as a result of antisemitism,” Silvernell said. “They said we didn’t do anything. We were there too.”
There was no credit given to Jewish war veterans, he said. One of the missions of the organization is to inform people of Jewish war veterans’ contributions to landmark events.
Another mission of the organization is to combat prejudice against Jewish war veterans, he said.
”Holocaust deniers are out there, and some people are antisemitic,” he said. “Our mission is to make more people know we’re just like the rest.”
“We provide services to the vets, and provide the benefits they deserve,” Silvernell said.
JWV prioritizes veterans support and at times it has been difficult to get things going on different campuses. South Campus has been fortunate to have Valerie Groll as a champion of veterans support, he said.
“She’s been very dynamic in building this and getting the right people in,” Sivernell said.
Valerie Groll is a veterans counselor at South veterans resource center and has helped create the support network for veterans at South.
She wants to create a familiar place for veterans to hang out with their brothers and sisters and get the support they need, she said.
“We talk to them and ask them about their goals, what they did in the military, find out what support services they’re gonna need so we can provide those resources to them,” Groll said.
Part of the onboarding process at the resource center is getting to know the veteran student as possible about veteran students so they can be proactive about assisting them, Groll said. One way they do that is through their partnership with Boots to Business.
“Veterans and military connected can learn how to own, operate, manage or expand a small business,” Groll said.
She wants to have the community resources meet the veterans where they are. It’s important that veteran students feel comfortable in the resource center and can feel at home among other students that understand what it is like to serve their country.
”One of the things that’s important for the vet centers is – I staff vet workers here, they provide that camaraderie,” Groll said.
Justin Dearick is a veteran student at South who said he is grateful to be getting such a nice big space and to have support there.
“Transitioning from military to civilian lifestyle is very difficult, and Valarie makes a very good environment for people that are dealing with that”, Dearick said
The resource center provides him a haven and a counselor who has guided him through to find a career path that feels right for him, he said
“I can come in here as a frustrated veteran and get my frustrations out. She is just the solution to whatever problem I can come up with, she’s like that for everybody,” Dearick said.
“I have a 4.0 right now…I’m on track to rise to the top,” Dearick said.