Veteran advocates for better center

Jeremy Staat poses for a photo near the Veterans Center.

Ambria King

Jeremy Staat poses for a photo near the Veterans Center.

Ambria King, Reporter

Students who have served in the armed forces can face a different set of challenges when returning to school than those who haven’t served.

From difficulties readjusting back into society and socializing, to homelessness and mental health issues, military vets can face a range of challenges when returning from the armed services. On average, 22 veterans a day die from suicide.

“When you go into the military you go in and do 13 weeks of boot camp, and they completely break you down from your civilian self and build you up to be something completely different and the mindset that you have doesn’t always adjust well with civilians, it’s just a different mindset,” said welding professor Jeremy Staat, who served in the Marine Corps. “It is a hard adjustment, and some guys and gals can’t adjust back and ultimately take their lives.”

The contrast between the heavily regimented and structured nature of the military and the more relaxed nature of civilian life can leave some vets struggling to readjust.

“You sit in a company of 100120 marines and you all knew the rules,” Staat said. “You knew what was right from wrong. You knew what you were supposed to do. We all had orders. We all wore the same thing and nobody w a s above anyone else, except for the rank structure… then you get out of the military and you come here and there is no structure.”

Because of these challenges, BC has the Veterans Service Center and Veterans Lounge for students who have served in the armed forces. The Veterans Lounge is located in the Campus Center and provides a place for vets to do their work and socialize with others who have served.

“Veterans need a place of their own just so they can be around like-minded people with shared experiences. The biggest thing is for them to have a place where they can give each other a hard time and not be offended by it,” said Staat.

Due to the number of veterans who utilize the veterans lounge, there have recently been some issues with overcrowding and some maintenance problems. Fortunately, BC has plans to build a brand new Veterans Resource Center.

“Hopefully it’s a nice place right in the middle of campus,” said Staat in reference to the planned new VRC.

The VRC project is part of Measure J, which was passed last November and provides over $502.8 million in funds meant specifically for repairing and updating facilities in public educational institutions.

The first round of funds will come in June and consists of nearly $81 million for BC.