A place that SOU vets can call their own

I spent the first days of my return to college trying to find a quiet place where I could study and not interfere with the daily activities of younger students. Truth be told, I needed quiet for my brain to absorb what I was studying … and I needed a place to take an occasional nap. Now, I have found those places and will reveal them to no one in case I consider returning to campus for further studies.

Sometimes though during the grind of school I found I needed to talk to someone with my, shall we say, years of experience, or similar experiences to my transition from the military to a civilian life, or my transfer to college.

There is now a quiet place for veterans on campus. A place where we can go to dive into our studies and at times just sit in silence, or talk with other veterans about life after military service.

It has been a long time coming, but thanks to the efforts of Danielle Mancuso, coordinator of the Commuter Resource Center at Southern Oregon University, and Marty Kimmel, the Veterans Service Officer on the SOU campus, veterans have a place of their own.

“Some veterans said they want to keep a low profile,” said Mancuso. “But they deserve the same consideration as other groups on campus.”

Mancuso said the vets have given a lot and SOU is just trying to give something back.

In a small ceremony on April 12, a room in the Stevenson Union was presented to the veterans and was ttended by veterans, members of the campus Reserve Officers Training Corps, university staff and students. Speeches were given, a sign was hung, and the door was open.

Marvin Woodard Jr. MRC Coordinator stood in for Mancuso, who was unable to attend. He said it was an honor to participate in the event. I can understand why. He comes from a long line of veterans. Two grandfathers, brothers, aunts, and uncles all have served in the arm forces. A college basketball knee injury kept him out of the service.

The dedication was also aimed at rejuvanating the university’s veterans group on campus, joining it with other Oregon campuses, giving the veterans some political clout in determining their service, and a presence on campuses across Oregon

Marty Kimmel wrapped things up by praising the veterans and the success they are having at SOU.

I would be remiss if I didn’t reveal my personal relationship, and how this “Angel” has personally helped me return to college, and how she has been there for me and other vets when we need something.

When my military connected disability made it impossible to continue working as a cabinetmaker, I saw Marty. She became my caseworker, encouraging me and helping me return to college.

Marty later was transferred to SOU, and currently does a weekly rotation at Rogue Community College and Oregon Institute of Technology, assisting veterans with getting what they need to make it through their transition out of the military and years of college.

Whenever a problem arises, she is there to lend an ear to listen, solve the problem or make it her personal mission to find someone who can.

To us vets, she is considered an Angel, to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden she is considered “An Oregon Jewel” and to Oregon congressman Greg Walden, she is considered someone whose services are needed for the veterans here in Oregon.

On behalf of all the veterans from all times of service, I would like to use up space in this paper and thank Danielle, Marty and SOU for getting us a space we can call our own.



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