Student veterans receive grant to upgrade center

Eric Buetikofer (left), adviser in Nontraditional and Transfer Student Services, and Austin Craft, president of the BGSU Student Veterans Organization, review plans for the Veterans Center.

BGSU has been nationally recognized numerous times for its outreach to student veterans and their families. Now a new grant from the Student Veterans of America (SVA) and the Home Depot Foundation to the BGSU Student Veterans Organization (SVO) will help the University make physical improvements to its Veterans Center.

The $10,000 grant comes through the SVA Vet Center Initiative in the form of Home Depot gift cards. The Home Depot Foundation this year has made $400,000 in awards to 50 SVA chapters, of which BGSU is one. In addition to the funding, the local Home Depot may provide help with projects.

The University has been enhancing its Veterans Center, which is located in the College Park Office Building. Construction is nearly complete and furniture has been ordered. The Student Veterans Organization will use the grant to complete the project.

“It took a lot of hard work, and a lot of long nights putting the Vet Center Initiative grant together,” said SVO President Austin Craft. “I am just glad that we were able to get this extra money to make the Vet Center that much better for all of our students. It will be a really fun place for veteran and military students to come socialize, study and unwind.”

Campus veteran centers are very important to active duty and veteran students, who may be juggling jobs, family and adjustment to student life. Having a place to connect with other veterans as well as find convenient, centrally located services can be invaluable, said Dr. Barbara Henry, assistant vice president for nontraditional and transfer student services.

BGSU offers veterans support services such as help with enrollment and VA benefits along with other resources and the camaraderie of fellow service members.

The Bowling Green SVO was founded in 2011 by veterans Geoff Roberts and Tim Plowman, who realized that BGSU lacked an organization specifically for veterans and military service members. Its goal is to support and guide veterans, current military members, dependents and advocates throughout their academic careers and beyond. The SVO quickly grew and was selected as a pilot school for the Peer Advisor for Veteran Education (PAVE) program. This allows the SVO to have direct access to all incoming military and veteran students, ensuring that each student is properly informed of all of BGSU’s resources.

SVA is a nonprofit coalition of more than 1,300 student veteran chapters, representing more than 540,000 veterans in higher education, across the country. Its mission is to provide military veterans the resources, support and advocacy to ease veteran and active military students' transition into higher education and leverage military experience to launch successful careers in high-demand fields after graduation.