Among the many diverse groups of people at Bloomsburg University, there is one group of people who have gone unheard. Who have no “home” to call to their own. Those are our university’s military veterans and the family and friends that support them. But that’s all about to change.
A few weeks into the Fall 2009 semester, Mike Medvec, a two-time combat veteran and Bloomsburg student, contacted the university’s Veteran Affairs representative Debbie Pavlick to help find other current and former military members on campus in hopes to spark interest in a student-veteran organization. Through the university’s email, Medvec soon found many others who shared his sentiments. With Dr. Fundenburk’s help, a meeting was held for all interested parties, and from that meeting The Bloomsburg University Student Veteran Association (BUSVA) was born.
Several weeks and meetings later, BUSVA has taken the necessary steps to become a university sanctioned organization, has submitted all the proper forms and paperwork, and is now awaiting board approval from the university’s Community Government Association.
BUSVA, a student run organization, is a social and educational organization which provides service and support for military and non-military personnel. The intent of this organization is to harness the collective experience and knowledge of all involved individuals, as well as provide social functions for involved individuals.
According to Pavlick, there at least 140 students currently enrolled who are military veterans, and dozens more students in Bloomsburg’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. Although BUSVA is a student veteran association, all students at Bloomsburg, regardless of military affiliation, are able to obtain membership and run for any of the elected offices.
Through their frequent meetings, a few main goals BUSVA’s prospective members hope to achieve through the association have been discussed at length.
First and foremost, BUSVA plans to help rectify some of the obstacles students encounter when there schooling is interrupted by deployments. Often times, students aren’t aware of the steps and procedures needed to take a leave of absence from school, and maintain enrollment to continue their studies upon there return home. Also, in some cases, the problem originated from the university. Because of limited communication, students can’t adequately maintain contact with the school, and mistakely have become dis-enrolled.
Jared Kennedy, a junior here at Bloomsburg and a Sergeant in the Army National Guard, has gone through two deployments during his college years, and encountered this problem upon his return from his second tour.
“I did everything they (Bloomsburg University) asked me too, just the same as the rest of my friends who deployed with me, and for some reason, when I got back, I had been dis-enrolled.” Kennedy continued, “Hopefully once BUSVA is approved and gets rolling, we can prevent this kind of thing from happening.”
Along with problems associated with students returning to school, many have issues reintegrating back into normal society in general. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, more commonly known as PTSD, is a common problem among service men and women after returning from combat. Through BUSVA, returning students experiencing such problems will have a network of men and women in place who have gone through similar situations, and can use those past life experiences to help ease the transition.
Students going and coming from deployments is a major issue in BUSVA’s plans, but there are several other matters that the student veterans plan to tackle, including: sending care packages to students while overseas; paring up service men and women who are preparing to deploy for the first time with students who have; informing students about government funds and programs they may be eligible for; student veteran to teacher workshops to help faculty better understand the unique situations student veterans deal with; and having social gatherings and events.
With BUSVA well on its way to being approved as a university organization, it won’t be long before they get all their plans and ideas in motion, making a difference at Bloomsburg University. Now they will be heard.