Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass student veterans services expands

By Catherine Ferris

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Alex Lindsay/Daily Collegian

Alex Lindsay/Daily Collegian

The University of Massachusetts has recently expanded the space dedicated to the Veteran Service Resource Center in a relocation to Dickinson Hall.

The expansion of the center, originally located in the Whitmore Administration Building, has been talked about since the summer of 2012.

Kelly Gray, assistant dean of students at the University, said there had been much discussion about expanding the center, and an exploration of options began last winter and early spring. When Dickinson was chosen, it was, and still is, considered an ideal spot based on its location and space.

The original center at Whitmore also took care of the financial aspect for student veterans with the GI Bill, but this changed with the expansion. The GI Bill moved into the Bursar’s Office and the space in Dickinson Hall is now used for programming.

Office Manager Matt Bachmann talked about how Dickinson Hall is a multipurpose space. In addition to being an area for students to do homework and socialize, it is also a place for advising, career services and weekly resume building.

“Career Services has been really helpful,” Bachmann said about the different programs students are able to take part in. He went on to say that students who come in for walk-ins are much more common than students who make an appointment.

Bachmann described Dickenson as a “safe place” for veterans, as it provides many necessary resources. He added that Dickinson is still working to build up the program, as it only just came into effect at the beginning of this semester.

Bachmann said that only a handful of non-veterans stop by, and those students are typically friends of veterans.

“Dickinson is designed for veterans, but it’s open to anyone on campus,” he said.

Allan Brooks, a sophomore, has been working in Dickinson since the beginning of the semester. He noted one difference from the previous set-up is that the old office does the necessary paperwork, while Dickinson is more of a resource center for veterans to navigate and integrate academics.

“I had help with my resume. They took it and helped me revise it,” Brooks.

There are other programs that Dickinson is trying to put in place for veterans, including mental health services.

“Being able to be around other students who have the same experiences has been helpful,” Brooks said.

He said one of the main reasons he decided to come to UMass in the first place was that the University was recently named as one of the top veteran-friendly schools in the country.

One of the reasons for the University’s accomplishment is the fact that there are full-time veterans’ counselors on staff, social-networking events, career placement and child-care facilities.

Brooks commended UMass, saying, “From my experience, UMass is really outstanding in appreciation and accommodation.”

While he has found there are some things that are not perfect yet, Brooks said the University covers a lot of ground and “deserves the praise its been getting.”

Brooks said that Chancellor Kubble Subbaswamy is very pro-veteran which has helped make some connections, many of which are yet to come.

The space in rooms 18 and 19 of Dickinson Hall is open to all students from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Catherine Ferris can be reached at [email protected]

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