The new initiative is designed to assist with the transition of current and incoming veteran and transfer students to the university. The center was developed following recommendations made by the Auburn Student Veterans Task Force and will be supported by a team of knowledgeable staff from various offices across campus. The center will be coordinated by Johnny Green, service coordinator for veterans and transfer students.
“The first Auburn Student Veterans Association meeting that I attended was in August of last year and there were only five people there,” said Marine Sgt. Adam Fountain, president of the Auburn Student Veterans Association. “We drafted a constitution and bylaws, submitted them to the Student Government Association and, in February of this year, the Auburn Student Veterans Association became a provisional student organization. Before that, there was no official representation for veterans on campus.”
Veteran students bring with them a set of non-traditional needs; almost all of Auburn’s veteran students have been deployed to a combat zone.
“By the time we get out of the military and go to college, we are much older than the kids coming right out of high school and we have a much different perspective on life,” Fountain said. “It is hard to relate to peers that are that much younger and who have never served in combat.”
Colleges and universities nationwide are preparing for an expected increase in veteran enrollment due to the new Post-9/11 GI Bill that took effect in August. Universities are increasing support for and outreach to veterans by streamlining admission and registration processes, expanding their counseling center capacity, offering career development and academic support resources, creating veterans’ offices and establishing mentoring programs.
“Our goal in establishing the center is to provide veterans and transfer students with a central location that assesses their needs and connects them to our existing programs and resources,” said Provost Mary Ellen Mazey. “These students bring a unique set of academic and life experiences with them to the Auburn family; I applaud them for bringing these issues forward so our institution can better serve our non-traditional students.”
“We set up this organization to give veterans a way to connect socially, as well as advocate on our behalf and help the college understand the needs of veterans,” Fountain said. “The center is meant to serve as an information repository for the various needs of veterans as well as give us a place to study and hold meetings. The establishment of a dedicated Veterans Center means a lot to veterans here at Auburn University.”