The Veterans Resource Center celebrated the opening of their new building located in Bannockburn H-108 on Wednesday, Nov. 15. According to UCR Student Life, all registered students are welcome to use this new space to study and utilize some of the resources available which include using the free printer and computers, enjoying a cup of coffee with their Keurig machine and having a space to rest and conversate with other student veterans. The resource center was highly anticipated by students who wanted a larger space to gather given the total of 170 veteran and active duty students, Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (ROTC) cadets and reservists on campus.
The coordinator of the Veterans Resource Center, Tami Thacker, a 12-year U.S. Navy veteran, shared in an interview how excited she is to allow students to have a larger space to study and socialize. “They needed a place to come together, to have a spot on campus just like any other group,” said Thacker. “Everyone else had a student center so it’s important that they had a place where they belonged here.”
The Veterans Resource Center was built in response to complaints from military and veteran students about the size of the Veterans Student Lounge located in Costo Hall, adjacent to the African-American Student Programs. Thacker and other student veterans recognized how the room was only small enough for four chairs, which made it feel “almost like a slap in the face” compared to the other student resource centers available for ethnic and gender programs on campus. In addition, Thacker and other coordinators acknowledged a lack of services available to accommodate the veteran students such as workshops and services to aid their process in financial aid and veteran benefits.
In spite of receiving a larger space for their activities, some military students had shared that they were displeased by the move to Bannockburn instead of to another room in the HUB. The walk discouraged these students from using the resource center as they preferred to stay around campus, especially around the HUB where most student resources are centrally located.
James Simons, a third-year transfer, is one of a few students who has received a positive experience from the community at the Veterans Resource Center. Simons recalls asking for help from other students with writing his thesis. “I couldn’t quite get a thesis,” shared Simons, “So I asked the vets around and they were able to help get a good thesis because I didn’t prepare enough time to go to the (Academic Resource Center), and I didn’t know I needed to schedule in advance to go there.”
Fourth-year Edward Blodgett takes comfort in knowing that he can come in to the resource center to take advantage of their space and resources they have to offer. “This is the first time we’ve actually had a place where veterans can come and relax in between classes,” he shared. “This is also the first time we’ve had a veteran coordinator… to handle all the stuff we need to do as far as benefits go or organizing events with other clubs and groups.”
Ryan Saenz, a third-year transfer student enjoys the benefits that the new location has had to offer. He acknowledges how the number of parking spaces available for students in the Bannockburn Village was helpful, considering most student veterans are commuters. “I kind of like the location because of the parking situation,” shared Saenz, “because we (student veterans) have gotten some allotments to park here since we (commute). That way we can park and study here or hang out in between classes.”
The Veterans Resource Center anticipates more workshops to be held that will offer veteran students a chance to learn about using their benefits. These workshops include financial aid, benefits from the Disabled American Veterans, a nonprofit organization that provides disabled veterans benefits and resources, and completing priority enrollment within the Financial Aid office.