Veterans will receive help merging back into society and the collegiate system.
Students in the armed forces will have the opportunity this year to experience SDSU in a different way.
An orientation session for student veterans will be held at 2-5 p.m. on Aug. 29 in room 169 of The Union.
“Anyone in the armed forces who (has) served or is serving in the military can come to the orientation,” said Andrew Ellis, faculty adviser for the SDSU Armed Forces Association.
Ellis said there will be an orientation session at the beginning of every semester.
Ellis said the session will be, “above and beyond what SDSU puts on,” because it will be more structured than the normal new student orientation session. The orientation will involve showing the students where their classes and services are, including Wintrode, health services, counseling services, dining facilities and UPD.
The session will have case managers from the Veterans Administration for veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom. Also, representatives from the Veteran’s Center in Sioux Falls, the Brookings County Veteran’s Service Office and the SDSU Veteran’s Office will present information.
Derek Douglas, former president of the SDSU Armed Forces Association, said the new student orientation is geared toward traditional students rather than students in the Armed Forces.
“This session will present more useful information to former active duty, National Guard and Reserve,” he said. “It will show them what services are available on campus and there will be more awareness of what is available on campus, locally and nationally.”
After talking to veterans, Ellis said they found they are having a hard time finding a group to fit in with because many are non-traditional students with a military background.
“The military trains you for six months to be a solider and one week to be a civilian again,” he said. “We’re trying to ease them into the collegiate system.”
Douglas said the session will help ease the transition into college from the military, especially for those who served on active duty.
“You get your paperwork and [the military] sends you packing, there is no follow-up,” Douglas said. “I think the session shows the veteran population that the university does care about this group of students and creates a more welcoming experience.”
Nathan McMurphy, a senior geographic information system and geography major, said an orientation session like this one would have benefited him.
“It would have helped me out a ton,” McMurphy said. “I went to the orientation day at The Union during the summer and we weren’t taken around campus or shown where any of the services were.”
McMurphy said he hopes this session will be useful for incoming freshmen who are veterans.
“It will set an example for incoming freshmen … [who] will say ‘oh, they are taking the time to help us’ and they will hopefully pass that down,” McMurphy said.
McMurphy is volunteering to help with the orientation session.
“It’s going to be fun walking around campus,” McMurphy said. “There are still places on campus that I don’t know.”
SDSU is not the first school to have a veteran’s orientation. Black Hills State University and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology also have similar orientation programs.
The SDSU Armed Forces Association was formally known as SDSU Veterans Club.