About the Student Veteran Program
Mikaela Schuman, staff writer
Oregon Tech's Student Veteran Program wears many hats. It is a lounge where students can go to relax or study, a conduit between veterans, Oregon Tech, and the Veteran Action Committee, and most importantly a resource for student veterans as they transition into campus life.
The Student Veteran Program's office is in the attached hallway to the College Union that also houses KTEC and the Edge. It acts as a lounge for active duty, reserve, or retired service members and their families or dependents can come together to relax and hang out.
“Most of the veterans here on campus don’t live on campus, so it’s a nice place just for them to come, hang out, feel safe to leave their bag if they want to, play video games, watch a movie, or unwind and decompress however they need to,” said the program's incoming 2018 President Kyle Baker.
Currently, the program hosts events about once a term that are open to all students. Events like 'Friggin Lazer Tag' have been done in the past, and they often do breakfasts or lunches where students can enjoy a free meal and chat with program members. These events serve to “open ourselves up [so students can] explore who we are as a program,” said Baker.
For Memorial Day, the Program is working with local CrossFit gyms to host a Hero workout. Hero Workouts are workouts done in memory of and to honor our fallen service members. This event will be open to anyone and Baker warns that it's a tough workout.
"I promise you we’ll push you to the limit, but we’re gonna have a good time with it."
They hope to expand Hero workouts and host them once a term in the future to pay respect to the fallen who have served with or were connected to veterans at Oregon Tech.
The Program has a lot in store this upcoming year. They hope to revamp the lounge area, make it more open and inviting with new furniture and a new set up. Right now, there is a Birdfeeder style system in place there and they are working to expand that, as well as update the book lending closet and make it more current, allowing students to donate their used textbooks they no longer need. They are planning more fundraisers to support both their Scholarship and Student Veteran Emergency Fund.
On campus there are around 200 reported veterans, and about half of them receive no VA benefits. The Student Veteran Program is establishing a scholarship with them in mind.
“School is expensive, and the downsides of coming to school as an adult is you have all of those life bills involved,” said Baker. Many of the student veterans here have families, debt, home
payments, etc., and are not able to work fulltime due to being in school. This Scholarship and Emergency Fund are resources for them.
“We’re here to ease the burden,” says Baker.
Starting May 15, they will be selling American flags for $1 that will be placed around school grounds on Memorial Day to remember American heroes. The Student Veteran Program wants everyone to know “It’s here, it’s open to any veteran or dependent,”
As Baker puts it: “If you need a little smell of Freedom, come on in.”