The revived Veterans Club provides a space for student veterans to connect

Students may have noticed a group of students that wear matching red t-shirts on Fridays. These shirts are more than just a collective fashion statement; rather, the shirt allows fellow student veterans to show solidarity with the troops that voluntarily ensure American freedoms through military service. These VanCougs share a unique perspective, and would like to share it with the campus community, as well.

John Neibert served 21 years in the U.S. Army Infantry, with three combat deployments totaling almost three years in combat. Neibert is in the graduate program for Health Administration. He is one of the core members of the Veterans Club & Associated Student Body, a club that has found renewed vigor to reassemble the entire body of student veterans.

“The club started in 2010 from alumni, but kind of died out,” said Neibert. Along with Veterans Affairs Representative Krista Griffin and other student veterans, Neibert set out last year to “update the club and create structure.”

The Veterans Club is currently making concerted efforts to reach the community through various avenues. For example, they will be teaming up with Clark College to hold a Thanksgiving meal for the homeless this year.

Building upon their service to others, the club, along with other organizations, will be organizing a food drive, and assembling care packages with a goal of providing 50 packages for our troops overseas.

The club wants to “create more activity, integrate with other clubs and get community support,” Neibert says. He also credits the student body president and vice president for their tremendous support and involvement.

Another student veteran that has benefitted greatly from the club is Nicholas Nelson. Nelson served in the U.S. Army, with six years active duty from 2000-06, including a deployment to the frontlines in the Middle East in 2003. He is an elementary education major. Nelson recognizes a lot of help from all the members that have been involved. He says, “I like to bring in food, so I started a snack fund up there.”

Along with the VA rep, the club hopes to help veterans streamline adaptation to student life. Neibert stresses the need for veterans to have the information they need in a time-saving manner. He recalls moments when he could have avoided much difficulty to get the services for college he needed if he had known what needed to be done. As a solution, Neibert is promoting a special session for veterans at ROAR, which would cater to the distinctive needs of the veteran community.

Lastly, Neibert says that the core members of the club desire to lay a strong foundation for the future of the club. Not only that, but he would like to extend an invitation for anyone to join.

This year there are approximately 237 student veterans on campus, which account for seven percent of the student population, according to the Washington State University Vancouver website. For anyone interested in stopping by to do some homework or interact with veteran VanCougs, the Veterans Center is located in VCLS, on the second floor, in between the psychology and business departments. The center is equipped with a television, computers, printer, a refrigerator and free coffee.

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