Increase in veteran students and Veteran’s Service Office at Southern
Max Bickley – General Assignment Reporter
The time of year to honor our veterans who have graciously served our nation, be it in the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or in wars past, has come again. Veterans Day is not only a day to remember the sacrifices made for our nation, but to also pay our respects to the duty they served.
On campus, amongst the student body, are not only athletes and honors students, but also veterans who come to Southern seeking an education. To help out these members of the student body is the Veteran’s Services in the basement level of Engleman Hall. The head of the office, Giacomo “Jack” Mordente gave a brief overview of the increase in veterans at Southern.
“This year we actually have the most enrollments of veteran students since I started working here during the Vietnam War,” said Mordente. “We have roughly 300 veterans who enrolled this year alone.”
While this number may seem low, in regards to the national geographic, Mordente noted the number of service members in the national population is also low.
“A little under one percent of the nation actually serves in the military,” said Mordente, “and while enrollment at Southern has gone down, our number of veterans have gone up. This is mostly due to the wars ending and troops are being pulled back.”
With this increase in veteran students, the work done by the Veteran’s Office becomes all the more necessary.
“What we do here at the office is firstly be very proactive with the Veterans who come in here,” Mordente said. “We act not only as a counseling service, liaisons to state and federal agencies, but also academic advising and help with the GI Bill and financial aid.”
Not only does the Veteran’s Office offer these services, but members of the faculty such as Mordente have a long history at Southern.
“I have been working here at Southern since 1975 to help with returning Veterans from Vietnam,” Mordente said, “and most schools now only have a School Certifying Official who mainly helps with the GI Bill and paperwork, however, Central is comparable to Southern in regards to their veteran services.”
What Mordente emphasizes most about the veteran offices are that they are extremely proactive with the veterans on campus, and assuring their success at Southern.
“We truly want to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible for our veterans,” Mordente said. “If we see a student’s grades dropping below the 3.0 GPA limit, we ask for a meeting and see what we can do to help them succeed academically.”
Beyond the office, the Veteran’s Services hold events which not only help raise money for veterans in need, but also aim to help charities nearby. One such event held in the fall is the “Kick for Nick” fundraiser.
“Nick was a student here before he went off to Iraq,” Mordente said, “He was very big into soccer and shared them with kids in Iraq since they loved the sport. Sadly, he died during his service, but the program still runs every fall to send soccer balls to soldiers overseas to share with kids they find.”
Those interested in donated to the Kick for Nick charity simply need to go to their website, kickfornick.org for more details. And while there are events off campus, on campus this coming Veterans Day there will be an event held on Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom.
Photo Credit: Max Bickley – General Assignment Reporter
HEADER PHOTO:Jack Mordente, head of the Veterans service office