A new center devoted to helping University of Wisconsin student veterans and military members opened its doors today.
The university’s Veterans Services and Military Assistance Center is on the 10th floor of 333 East Campus Mall and will help students deal with “a very complex set of state and federal benefits,” UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank said.
“Students who dedicated themselves to military service deserve to pursue their education just as any other student without undue administrative burdens, and I hope this center is a good step in making that possible,” Blank said at the opening ceremony.
The number of UW students using GI benefits has jumped in recent years, from about 100 in 2005 to about 450 last fall, according to Blank.
A number of student veterans and military members joined Blank, UW Registrar Scott Owczarek and outgoing UW Provost Paul DeLuca in announcing the center’s opening.
Among them was UW junior Nicolas Harsy, who recently became the non-traditional student representative to the UW System Board of Regents. Harsy served with the U.S. Marine Corps from 2008 to 2013, completing two tours in Afghanistan and becoming sergeant, and he said having one place dedicated to helping student veterans will ease the “long and tedious process” of benefits.
“With this new center, everything’s going to be streamlined,” Harsy said. “There’s only one place you have to go to, one set of people you have to talk to, and then everything else will be taken care of.”
Jake Beebe, a UW junior who is president of Veterans, Educators and Traditional Students, joined the Marines out of high school until he started at UW in September 2011. He said he’s heard “horror stories” from other schools about student veterans who ended up having to pay their tuition themselves because they did not have the appropriate help in understanding the benefits available.
“Everyone says the words ‘GI Bill’ like it’s just one thing, but it’s really an array of different laws and benefits systems,” Beebe said.
The center will have two people on staff and has an area that other groups, from advisers to government officials to employers, can use to help student veterans or military members.