Westminster College opened its first center for Veterans and Military Services, located in Walker Hall, a little over three years ago in September of 2015.
Since its opening the center has provided an array of services to active military students, veteran students and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) students at Westminster.
“The establishment of the center and director position was made possible by generous lead gifts from alumna, trustee and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Kim T. Adamson and the R. Harold Burton Foundation,” according to the college’s website.
The Veterans Center offers a spacious area filled with a flat-screen TV, sofas, chairs, and tables. Many of the veterans enjoy the free coffee while being able to utilize many different types of student services or to chat with other veterans.
The center also hosts the Westminster Military Association (WMA) which is a recognized ASW club on campus. The club meets on a monthly basis and is open to not only veteran students but all students, faculty, staff and alumni, according the WMA’s webpage.
Veteran and aviation management student Guillermo Gonzalez said he could not imagine being at Westminster without the Veterans Center.
“I absolutely love it,” Gonzalez said. “I live quite far away and this is absolutely a home away from home for me. If I am not in class I am usually here.”
Many students said they experienced a sense of camaraderie at the Veterans Center.
“This center is a really good place for Veterans and military folk to come and vent between different classroom atmospheres,” said Westminster alumni Luke Childers. “I would have had a harder time if the veterans center wasn’t here.”
Sylvia O’Hara, an army veteran and full-time director of the Veterans Center, estimated that the center is currently serving roughly 150 students.
One misconception about the Veterans Center is that it is only for students with military affiliations, according to O’Hara.
“It is an open invitation,” O’Hara said. “I would love to have students who do not have military affiliations to come into the center to talk to students, to talk to me and ask questions. You are never going to learn unless you start a conversation.”
In celebration of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, the Veterans Center is holding an event the following Monday, Nov. 12 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The Westminster Community is encouraged come to the center to pick up a wearable, yellow ribbon to show support on campus and to help tie fleece blankets that will be donated to the VA Hospital, along with several other activities.
O’Hara said her advice to students celebrating Veterans Day is to listen to a veteran tell you about their life.
“If you really want an impact, if you really care and you don’t want it to be a hollow empty thank you for your service, listen to somebody’s story,” O’Hara said. “Listen to it and be engaged with them.”
Veterans Day Celebration Schedule
When: Monday Nov. 12, 2018 from 11am-1pm
Where: The Veterans Center located in Walker Hall
Activities: Mingle and enjoy refreshments
Pick up a yellow ribbon to wear to show support on campus
Tie Fleece Blankets (Donated to VA Hospital)
Bring a non-perishable (Donated to VA food pantry)