Dozens gathered in Bessey Hall to celebrate the dedication and the perseverance that America's veterans and service-members give to our country. Surrounded by an array of red, white and blue balloons and the American flag veterans and active-duty service-members mingled, networked and learned about the numerous resources available to them at Michigan State. "It was an extremely warm welcome from all the staff and the opportunity to meet some of the other veterans was great," said Josh Marsh, a veteran of the US Marines and MSU junior. RCPD Director Michael Hudson said it best, in introducing attendees to the goal of the evening: "We are all gathered to make a strong welcome to MSU for our veterans and show them the giant opportunity to make your dreams and aspirations for your life a reality here at Michigan State."
In honor of their service, the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities partnered with Michigan State University's Army and Air Force ROTC, the offices of the Registrar, Financial Aid and Study Abroad as well as the Learning Resource Center, Olin Health Center and the MSU Counseling Center to host the first Student Veterans Welcome Reception. Two MSU student organizations also assisted in the transition for veterans on campus - the MSU chapter of Student Veterans of America and the MSU Neuro Network. "It was nice to have so many resources consolidated in such a small space," said Jeremy Blaney, a veteran who attended the event.
The evening's event was sponsored with support from the RCPD's new Emerging Opportunities Endowment to welcome, raise awareness and bridge gaps for veterans on campus. RCPD Chronic Health Disabilities Specialist Shani Feyen recounted the highlights of the evening: "seeing veterans connect with each other and watching their conversations extend beyond the event to shared stories among themselves" provided the RCPD staff with the knowledge that what they had sought to accomplish had succeeded. John Pedraza, the RCPD Psychiatric Disabilities Specialist added that "the turnout of the veterans and the fact that they stayed the whole time to connect with one another was the sign that the partnership between the RCPD and veterans is one that will continue."
To foster this continued partnership Pedraza wants to attempt to hold forums between the veterans and the RCPD as well as other departments on MSU's campus. "The RCPD [is] sharing office space with the student veterans associations to help jumpstart their organization," Pedraza said. In order to provide veterans with the best experience possible, "we need to understand what their needs are and what it is we can do to help [the veterans]," he said. The RCPD will continue its tradition of support for veterans at Michigan State University. In the words of Josh Marsh: "I am looking forward to helping out the community and getting the word out to all the students on campus that we are here."