Veteran’s orientation suffers lack of communication

Haley Wilson

South Dakota State University is home to a large number of service members. Unfortunately, few of them attended the first veteran’s orientation.

Armed Forces Association President Tim Hanna said only two non-service members seeking information on the program were in attendance.

“The turnout was really disappointing,” he said.

Before the veteran’s orientation program was developed, there were no efforts made to show veterans around campus.

Hannah said an effort to acclimate AFA members started after realizing just how few members were missing from an orientation that could help veterans adjust to a different environment.

The Veteran’s Orientation is, in fact, quite similar to regular orientation. However, it is geared toward the needs of the veteran population on campus. The orientation was aimed at addressing different needs for veterans attending SDSU. It includes demonstrating how to get in touch with campus counseling services, disability services, and the way for veterans to go about processing their various education benefits from the Veteran’s Administration.

Members of the Armed Forces Association faced challenges in getting the word out about the event, they live off campus and were adjusting to new daily routines.

They are also not the typical college student fresh out of high school.

“Veterans attending school with at least one tour of duty under their belt meant that they started out their college education at the minimum of age 23,” Hanna said.

The first orientation was held Aug. 29, but didn’t have an attendance anywhere near what the Armed Forces Association hoped to see.  An ad in The Collegian was posted for the event, but little else was accomplished to get word out about the event. The club attempted to send out an email via the Veteran’s Resource Office, but as the club is not affiliated with the Resource Office, the email was not administered.

“Everyone in this area of the country seems to be very pro-veteran, yet when worst comes to worst, there was little support for the orientation,” Hanna said.

Danny McLoughlin, who also helped to plan the event, said “I don’t think we got the word out fast enough. It was kind of a bust.”

After the poor turnout, the Armed Forces Association on campus is intent on increasing their attendance for next time. Better marketing tactics will be employed for the second orientation. The club sent in an official request for student data. This year is the first for the school to collect demographic information on service members, helping the Armed Forces Association to identify who exactly is interested in the orientation.

Club members for the Armed Forces Association hope to attract many more service members out of the large number that call SDSU home.

How many attendees is the goal for the next veteran’s orientation?

“Definitely more than two,” Hanna said.