March 28, 2017

New vet facility opens at Trinity Commons

For the nearly 600 veterans attending Cleveland State, the Veteran Student Success Program assists with their transition from the service into academia.

Formerly located in Rhodes Tower West, the program’s office moved to a larger facility in Trinity Commons which formerly housed the Office of Civic Engagement, on Euclid Avenue in January.

The program provides both disability and counseling services to veterans, ensures that all students register with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, and in general advocates on behalf of veterans.

“This is a place where vets can come in and start to make that transition,” said Coordinator Robert Shields, a retired Lt. Cmdr. who spent 30 years in the military, including the U.S. Coast Guard. “It’s a safe place.”

According to Shields, the program changed locations because of inadequate space to accommodate the large veteran student population.

“We had a small day room, a small computer room, a quiet study room and a little office used for a number of things,” Shields said. “And there were times that where we were filled. We were packed.”

During a semi-annual meeting with editors of student media outlets, Cleveland State President Ronald Berkman confirmed that veteran students brought up the issue during one of his presidential luncheons.

Shields explained that the program provides students with support for the unique challenges they face because of their experiences in the service. He added that obtaining an education can create further opportunities for veterans in the future.

“I want for them the opportunities that the education will bring.” said Shields. “And I can’t promise them what’s going to come next, but I want the options to be theirs for a career.”

Shields said that because veterans make up about 3.5 percent of CSU’s population, they can also provide valuable insight to other students in the classroom, particularly in the fields of engineering, health sciences and non-U.S. studies.

“When we make about 3.5 percent of the population [at CSU] it means that you’re probably going to run into a vet every several sections of a class,” Shields said. “I think [veterans] offer a lot to the community. Not only because of degree, but because of what they bring with them from the service.”

For more information about the Veteran Student Success Program, visit www.csuohio.edu/vikingvets/program.



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