Student Veterans adapt to life on campus
3 mins read

Student Veterans adapt to life on campus

The Student Veteran Resource Center (SVRC) at USD serves to assist military personnel pursuing a higher education. SVRC provides resources for student veterans and veteran dependents. 

SVRC is a state funded program that provides student veterans with printing, free counseling and tutoring services, along with a quiet place to study and hang out. 

Kaleb Ellis, a military police officer and senior kinesiology and sports management major, has received some of the educational benefits that comes from being a student veteran at USD.

“Student veterans get benefits via a few different routes. If you have a certain amount of active duty time, that correlates to a percentage of your tuition that is covered through the military,” Ellis said.

Jacob Aus, coordinator of the SVRC, assists student veterans during the transition from military life to civilian life with an emphasis on education. 

“If you’re a student that’s nontraditional, there could be some things you’re not thinking of and it’s best to catch those before it’s too late,” Aus said. “So, before you fail a course or start having struggles with integration into the classroom environment, come and talk to me to discuss the different services you could be utilizing.”

Dan Sunberg, Army Lieutenant Colonel and professor of military science, said there is a sense of community that student veterans receive from the SVRC. 

“I can see how SVRC is such a critical resource on campus for veterans because it’s a place for them to meet other veterans and have that kind of connection,” Sunberg said. “You immediately have an amount of respect, trust and comfort in other veterans.” 

Ellis has taken advantage of the experiences and opportunities available through attending college as a student veteran.

“In the image of what a student veteran is – the main responsibility I take into consideration is holding myself accountable, making sure I am doing everything I can in school to further it and getting the most out of the experience,” Ellis said. 

Being a veteran himself, Sunberg said college can sometimes be challenging for student veterans to adapt to because after already surviving war they see college as being super easy. However, they quickly find out that isn’t the case. 

“They have to slow down and really enjoy the process of college, be a part of some groups and really get to know your peers because that is what makes the experience so much richer and a better learning environment,” Sunberg said. “It makes the process of earning a degree so much more valuable than just the piece of paper you get at the end.”

Being that most student veterans have seen and experienced opportunities that the average civilian hasn’t, Sunberg said they have a unique perspective to offer the classrooms here at USD.

“As far as working as part of a team, committing to a goal, seeing the world, being a part of a diverse organization and seeing how diversity makes teams stronger … they have such a rich perspective and input that makes the learning environment better for everyone,” Sunberg said.