Student organization helps veterans ease into college life
GVL / Sara Carte - Student Veterans Orgainzation members, (left to right) Bryan Wood, Matthew Oudbier, and Kayla Clarke meet in the Veterans Lounge in the Kirkhof Center on Monday, Mar. 14, 2016.
Grand Valley State University and the Student Veterans of America (SVA) organization are offering support to the men and women who have served in the U.S. military through the Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE) program.
PAVE, which was launched by GVSU during the fall of 2015, is a program that assigns all new student veterans at the university to a peer advisor.
The peer advisers have been trained by staff from the University of Michigan military support programs and networks and focuses the education on how to effectively connect with their advisees, provide information and assistance, and serve as a battle-buddy to advisees.
"While personalities, experiences, and goals vary greatly, those who have served in any branch have a unique shared experience with their military brothers and sisters," said Steven Lipnicki, faculty adviser for SVA. "Providing a peer adviser increases the likelihood that questions will be asked and support accepted from one another."
Many of the peer advisers for PAVE are members of the SVA organization at GVSU.
The organization aims to provide an open and welcoming environment for student veterans to connect with veterans both on campus and in the local communities.
Another goal of the group is to connect student veterans and their families to various resources and support systems that will help them succeed in their academics and anything else the future may bring.
Along with student veterans, anyone who supports the success of student veterans are able to join the SVA.
Matthew Oudbier, the president of the SVA, said that by connecting the student veterans on campus to others who have shared their experiences, the program will be providing mutual support and could increase the chance of success for the student veterans.
Oudbier served eight years in the Marines from 2004 to 2012 and found the SVA to be a natural fit after coming to GVSU.
SVA is currently seeking students on campus to assist with the mentorship program for student veterans at GVSU.
"Our members have a lot to offer, so connecting with different organizations will be very beneficial." Oudbier said. "With all the different majors and interests within the chapter, we hope to bring more diverse resources and information to the general assembly of any organization on campus."
Lipnicki said that there are currently more than 650 current or former military members and dependants enrolled at GVSU.
"We must continue to recognize their sacrifices, celebrate them at every opportunity, and be thankful for they are the reasons that the rest of us can live our lives safely and free," he said.
For more information about SVA, visit www.orgsync.com.