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University of Iowa Veterans receive a renovated space

BY ABIGAIL MEIER | SEPTEMBER 04, 2013 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa veterans can now look forward to a redesigned rendezvous point on campus. On Tuesday, the newly renovated Veterans Association’s office in the Communications Center was unveiled and greeted with a warm welcome. 

Many UI officials throughout campus said the updated technology, painted walls, cozy couches, and redesigned offices will create an atmosphere for veterans on campus to come to seek help and support.

“We wanted to create a central point of contact,” said Allen Roberts, the UI Veterans Center coordinator and veteran. “We hope to lower the frustration threshold for veterans here on campus.” 

The newly refurbished office features updated technology, including a high-tech TV hanging from the freshly painted white walls. The room is also lined with accessible computers and is intended to give off a more user-friendly atmosphere for veterans. 

Michael Considine, a three-year UI student veteran and UI Veterans Association student president, said new technologies available at the center now allow him to take care of certain training while at school instead of on base. 

“Veteran students are different from other students,” he said. “All students straight out of high school have a completely different experience from somebody who joined the military for four, six, or even 20 years before they came to the UI.”

Considine said with an increase in the number of veterans on campus, the remodeling provides a very open and relaxed environment for veterans but still maintains a professional feel. He also noted that certain documents and procedures related to financial aid can often be frustrating for UI vets and the new design and layout of the center can only help.

“Connectivity is a great thing for us,” said Lukas Niedert, a three-year UI student veteran who attended the event. “It’s a great way for us to share experiences with each other.”

An array of speakers filled the center, including UI President Sally Mason and Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa. 

Loebsack expressed his gratitude for those who were willing to risk their lives for their country.

“The least we can do is welcome them with open arms,” he said. “And provide them with as many services as possible.”

Mason pointed out that the UI has one of the largest enrollments in the country with around 500 student veterans and 300 faculty and staff veterans on campus.

She also referenced the  “8 Keys to Success” — a national program initiated by the Obama administration to help serve vets — and pointed out that the UI has implemented three of those “keys” by providing a culture of trust and connectedness across campus, coordinating and centralizing campus efforts, and providing professional development for staff and veterans.

“You are a part of us,” Mason said at the event. “You are a very much a part of the fabric of this great university.”

Associate Vice President Georgina Dodge, the UI chief diversity officer and a veteran, said when attending college, it was a time that vets did not necessarily tell people they were in military service because there was a certain amount of shame associated with that. She said she does not want any veterans or active member to go through that.

“I really want to let them know that they are welcome here at the University of Iowa, and we appreciate everything they have done on behalf of their country,” she said.


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