In the military, you quickly get used to a highly structured regimen, says Justin Feingold.
You wake up at a certain time, there’s physical training, work, meals … it’s a strict routine that is followed each day. Stepping out of that world and into an academic setting can require a period of adjustment.
“One of the things that’s different is that you have all this time on your hands,” says Feingold, a sophomore marketing major who served in the Marine Corps for 12 years. “Some vets have trouble adjusting to that. Other times, they’ll find that it’s hard to discuss things with civilians because they don’t know where you’re coming from.”
Gathered around a table in Billingsly Student Center on a recent afternoon, Feingold – the group’s president – and other members of the Missouri Southern Student Veterans Organization talked about their primary mission.
“We want to advocate for the student veterans to give them an outlet to keep serving and to help with the transition from boots to books,” he said.
As part of that dedication to service, the student veterans group adopted a military family for Christmas last year. They also sponsored the Run with the Heroes 5k, allowing people to run with active and reserve military personnel and raise funds for military-related charities.
A contest was held to design a logo for the MSSU Student Veterans Organization. The winning entry was designed by graphic design major Justin Oden.
As the spring semester begins, the group is focusing on connecting with student veterans.
“We’re working with the enrollment department and the first year program to get vets as they come in and tell them what’s available,” says Kristin Laumbach, a senior math major who is currently in the Air National Guard. “We’re trying to do early outreach. There are a lot of veterans on campus. We want to be a presence on campus and bring awareness to the veterans that are here and their needs.”
Those outreach efforts can be extremely important to veterans new to campus life, says Nate Dillon, a sophomore international business major who served in the Air Force for 12 years.
“The big thing I needed help with was learning how to get my credits transferred over (during enrollment),” says Dillon. “It’s kind of stressful not knowing what help is out there.
“We can sit down with veterans and say, ‘Here are some things you might not have heard about that can benefit you.’”
Ultimately, that is the most critical part of the organization’s mission, says Feingold.
“We’re here to be the voice for veterans on campus.”
The Student Veterans Organization meets from 12:15 to 1 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month in Room 243 of Billingsly Student Center. Keep up to date with activities by following them on Facebook or @svomssu on Twitter.