by Bryan Gentry
Across the nation, the Student Veterans of America are helping former soldiers adjust to life as a student. The Longview chapter of SVA opened in the spring of 2007 and has been growing since.
“We’re trying to raise awareness,” Longview SVA president Bill Kelly said, “and help veterans make the transition from boots to books.”
SVA is a support group for student veterans. The group also keeps an eye on the treatment of veterans on college.
“We want to make sure every veteran is receiving the accommodations they need,” SVA treasurer Jim Atkins said. “It’s for family members and friends of veterans too, not just veterans.”
SVA members estimate that more than 120 veterans are on campus. The number of SVA members falls well short of this. The group would like all veterans on campus to know that SVA is there for them, and would like to help them with their college experience.
“We’re here to support each other. The way soldiers support each other,” Longview SVA Vice President Matt Baker said.
“Many of the people in this group are doing great [in school],” SVA sponsor Jim McGraw said.
The organization is open to friends of veterans, as well as veterans themselves.
“Anyone who wants to help can,” Kelly said.
They have been making their presence felt around campus, hosted campus activities. Last semester they collected supplies for soldiers in the Middle East. By the end of the semester, the box was overflowing. They also did a ring toss for a Thanksgiving Day turkey. It was sponsored by Hy-Vee and all proceeds went directly to veterans.
Their work can be seen in the Longview Campus Center. The Wall of Honor, located in the main entrance of the cafeteria, pays tribute to those who serve the nation. More specifically, the wall highlights the military service of Longview employees, faculty and students.
Honored on the wall are English professor Eric Sullivan, history professor Steven Murphy, criminal justice professor Rick Turner, and several others. The organization will have the case until April.