The University celebrated the official opening of the recently established Veterans Lounge Tuesday afternoon.
Staff, faculty, members of the Veterans Club and local veterans gathered in room 100 of the Loyola Hall of Science for a ceremony honoring student veterans. Event speakers included Robert Zelno and Colonel Joseph Wetherell.
The family of the late Ray Burd, former director of printing and mailing services, attended the ceremony with donations they collected after Burd’s death for the Veteran’s Club.
The ceremony was followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the Veterans Lounge and an open house in the lounge which local and student veterans met and exchanged stories.
The Veterans Club established the lounge around January as a place reserved for student veterans to relax.
Chris Riechard, University sophomore and vice president of the Veterans Club, said that he credits the idea of the lounge becoming a reality to the Advocacy Committee, a group of faculty members who work to support student veterans. He said that the Advocacy Committee had been pushing to get a lounge for a while, and it became a possibility last semester when a speaker came on Veterans Appreciation Day and University President Rev. Quinn, S.J., gave his approval.
Riechard said that he thinks the lounge is useful because most student veterans commute and the lounge is a quiet place where they can take a break in between classes. As most student veterans are older than the average University student, Riechard also said that he believes it is a good place for student veterans to interact with other students their own age.
Riechard said that he believes that the lounge is useful because it may help student vets have an easier time finding resources to learn about the G.I. Bill, which is what helps student veterans pay for their education.
University sophomore and student veteran Jedediah Stewart said that the lounge is a place that student veterans can call their own.
“Returning from a structured military life to an independent civilian life is challenging,” Stewart said. “[The lounge] creates a sense of belonging.”
University junior and student veteran Earl Granville said that he believes that the club is a good place for Veterans returning to school to find a place where they belong and know they are not alone.
Riechard said that he hopes to raise awareness of the new lounge among student veterans on campus. He said that the Veterans Club members will try to get lists of incoming student veterans. He also said that they are planning to hang fliers around campus that will advertise the club.
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