New USU office provides assistance to returning veterans attending school

Alan Andersen is Executive Director of Utah State University Dining Services.He is also a veteran of three overseas tours of military duty and a strong proponent of the newly created Veterans Resource Office on campus.Michelle Bogdan directed the creation of the new office in her role as Director of USU’s Women’s Resource Center and Reentry Student Center.Jacob Scharton will serve as a student mentor in the office. He is a 10-year Army veteran who served in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.Anderson, a member of the committee that developed this program, said it’s a matter of making veterans who come to campus aware of what is available to them.”There are so many resources here that would really help the veterans coming back deal with so many issues that they face once they get back from a tour of duty.”He said it is a service he would have used after his overseas service.”It would have been great to have,” he said. “There’s such a broad, diverse range of people coming back from their experiences over there; who they were before and what they’re coming back to here. In dealing with these issues, you can’t just ‘cookie cutter’ it out in finding ways to help them adjust to normal life.”Andersen said many are coming back and going to school because it makes sense since there are many benefits within the military for schooling.”Veterans come back from their deployment and they’re trying to fit in and trying to reconfigure their lives after being over there. When I first came back it would have been nice to have somewhere to go and some place talk.”It’s just a huge change of circumstances to be over there in a war zone with a constant threat to your life, with the different traumatic experiences some may have over there.”He said many people are surprised to learn that when veterans return and get into a school structure, a lot of different things can bother them.”When I came back just being around a lot of people was really hard for me, just to sit down in a class with a whole bunch of people around me could really be nerve racking.”He said a soldier likes to be a soldier and they’re proud of their service to the country.”To come back and need help is very hard for them to admit. You come back and think everything is fine and then something sneaks up on you. Out of the blue, something will happen in every day life and you’ll realize this is an issue which had a bigger impact than you first thought.”Are veterans taking advantage of this service?”Last year was the first year we really started to do anything. It was really slow, we were looking for funding. There was definitely some interest, I think it will continue to grow.”An Open House is scheduled for Thursday (Aug. 27) from 10 a.m. to noon in USU’s Taggart Student Center at the Veterans Resource Office, Room 315.

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