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May 26, 2009 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2009-05-26

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

3

Veterans start anew at 'U'

More programs ease
transition from army
life to student life
By ANNIE THOMAS
Daily StaffReporter
For student veterans at the Uni-
versity, the transition to college
life is different from what many
freshmen or transfer students
experience.
Coming out of active duty in the
military and into a university set-
ting involves a whole different set
of unknowns - including being
older than other students and cop-
ing with feelings of isolation.
LSA junior John Farrow, an Air
Force veteran, said the age differ-
ence between him and other stu-
dents made it difficult to relate to
people in his graduating class.
"I'm 26 right now, and being in
a class with 18- and 19-year-olds is
kind of a hard transition, especially
with my background or any veter-
an's because you don't really relate
to the students," Farrow said.

LSA senior Douglas Prough
decided to join the National Guard
after high school in order to pay
for college. His service took him to
Germany and the Republic of Kos-
ovo where he worked with flight
operations and air traffic control.
Upon Prough's arrival at the
University in 2006, which he
called "a huge transition," avail-
able services to veterans were
almost nonexistent. Prough added
that with the lacking veteran sup-
port systems it was difficult to
meet people.
But the University has been
making strides to encourage stu-
dent veterans to feel more com-
fortable on campus by providing
them with more coping services
than in previous years.
When LSA senior Derek Blumke,
an Air Force veteran, transferred
to the University in 2007, he found
that services for veterans were
basically nonexistent. In the spring
of thatyear, Blumke took the initia-
tive to form the Student Veterans
Association - a group that would
help University student veterans
become accustomed to college life.

During the same time, Blumke
was involved in founding Student
Veterans of America - a group
that now has 180 chapters across
the country at many college cam-
puses.
Blumke said the issues student
veterans face range from feeling
isolated to receiving questions
from other students that can make
veterans feel uneasy. He added
that the main goal of the Student
Veterans Association is to encour-
age veterans to go to college and be
successful.
Since the organization's incep-
tion, Blumke has flown back and
forth to Washington, D.C. in a
tireless effort to lobby on behalf of
student veterans. He has also been
working on a project concerning
mental health and suicide preven-
tion for veterans.
According to Blumke, the num-
ber of veteran suicides is at the
highest it has been in the last 20
years.
With Blumke and other student
veterans pushing for reforms, the
University is making an effort to
implement more programs for vet-

erans. Last fall, the office of New
Student Programs created the Stu-
dent Veterans Assistance Program
to provide more services for stu-
dent veterans and those currently
involved in the military, like men-
toring programs, an orientation
program designed specifically for
veterans and mental health pro-
grams.
Philip Larson, head of the Stu-
dent Veterans Assistance Pro-
gram, wrote in an e-mail interview
that the program exists to support
veterans and active service mem-
bers.
"We understand that former and
current military service members
have unique needs and qualities
that they bring to the University,"
Larson wrote. "These qualities
include maturity, leadership skills,
determination, commitment and
a deeper understanding of the
world."
Blumke said he believes the
resource office will help veterans
transition to college life - includ-
ing its 65 current veterans - and
will help the University recruit
other veterans.

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