Veterans have a new voice at WVU Parkersburg, the WVU Parkersburg Veterans Corps. The Corps held its first meeting at 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 28, with 14 student veterans present, as well as several faculty and staff.
The Corps is a branch of the Student Veterans of America (SVA) and is an organization that supports veterans, veteran advocacy and community/campus service. The SVA is already active at Glenville State and Rio Grande; therefore, the WVU Parkersburg branch is the third in West Virginia. The Corps will be more than simply a club. With almost 300 registered student veterans, the Corps has the potential to be a powerful voice, according to John Wilson, veteran work study.
“The group will have direct ties into the executive branch of the college administration. We want you to go into the community and build ties and strong bridges that can benefit veterans, the school and yourselves,” Anthony Underwood, Vice President of Student Services, said to the veterans attending. Several ideas of different areas of service are being discussed.
Kurt Klettner, WVU Parkersburg counselor, is developing plans for a working relationship with Habitat for Humanity. “There are currently three houses being built by Habitat for Humanity, and they can use all of the help they can get,” Klettner said.
The list of community service needs is never-ending. “The government purchases new computers every two years. A project for the Corps can be to simply take the old computers and deliver them to a rural school that may need them,” Douglas Weaver, computer and information technology program administrator, said. Weaver is already working with the distribution of the discarded military computers and will guide the Corps with this detail.
The Corps has the primary responsibility to the support of all veterans: student, faculty, staff and neighbors. “We should be a strong part of the school’s handshake with the community,” Wilson said. Service to the community does not only benefit the community, it can also benefit the veteran.
Veterans may eventually have a veteran’s lounge/study area, where veterans can find information concerning veteran benefits, benefit law changes and service opportunities. “We would like to also have a female veteran advocacy organization that could meet in a room such as this,” Wilson said. A lounge/study area can also be a place for new SVA benefit postings.
The SVA offers veteran scholarships, possible employment assistance, veteran advocacy and more. Veterans can have a unified voice and active service within their communities while having the camaraderie of fellow veterans.
Meetings have been tentatively established for the 1st Monday and 3rd Thursday of each month at 11 a.m. “We are hoping this schedule will allow all veterans to attend at least once a month, I will serve as primary veteran/faculty member contact,” Klettner said. Klettner is in room 1019 of the main campus at (304) 424-8388.
Wilson has an office within the financial aid offices of the main campus and is available to assist any veteran with any issue. “I would like each veteran to attend these meetings and discover their value here at WVU Parkersburg. I always like to remember, freedom is never free,” Wilson said.