Veterans at Central Virginia Community College have long desired a quiet place to study, talk shop with other vets, or just escape for a few minutes from the general hassle of college life.
Dedicated to providing just that, CVCC officially unveiled its Veterans Resource Center on Monday.
School Veterans Coordinator Tina Murphy said about 180 students have served in the military. The Student Veterans Organization has about 250 members, including former students.
The center, which opened for use when the Fall 2012 semester began, hosts six computers and cushioned seating. Murphy said about 30 students use the facility on any given day.
“During the fall semester, the use increased as the word got out, as they realized they had an area that was strictly for them,” she said.
Student Veterans Organization President Chris Dews, who served in both the Army and the Marines, is pursuing an associate’s degree in business management.
Dews said it’s nice for the veterans to chill in an environment with others who share the same experiences and understand the stresses endemic to the military experience.
“Some people, loud noises make them a little nervous. We tend not to like crowds or other people walking up behind us and scaring us.”
Dews said he uses the facility daily and sees vets helping each other study and even look for jobs.
“It’s just a place to hang out, and it’s yours,” Dews said.
CVCC President John Capps stopped by the grand opening Monday. He said the proposal came to him not long after he became president in 2011.
“I was pleased with the initiative that this group had taken,” he said, adding the only roadblock was finding space.
So the school moved the bookstore and put the veterans center in its place.
Danny Jones, the former president of the Student Veterans Organization, said he knows the room doesn’t appear to be anything special, but the appearance isn’t the point.
“People walk in this room, and they look and say ‘Some computers, a couple of chairs, it doesn’t look like much’ … but for us it’s important.
“We just need to rest our minds. You just can’t go to the student center … and get that. It’s just too chaotic.”
Lynchburg College Registrar Jay Webb said his school will add a veterans center when its new student center is complete.
He said he believes the post-9/11 GI Bill, including certain education benefits for veterans, has contributed to an uptick in veteran enrollment.
“It’s a more significant commitment by the government to their schooling,” Webb said, adding LC has over 30 veterans enrolled in various courses — about one third of them transferred from CVCC.
He said professors appreciate the perspectives veterans bring to their courses.
“Veterans come with a certain dedication and drive that adds to the classes,” Webb said.
Capps said CVCC’s facility has been so well received it already needs to expand.
“Tina is already saying that they’ve outgrown this space,” he said.
So when the student center is renovated, the current veterans facility will be enlarged.
“We want to support our veterans however we can,” Capps said.
“Part of that is simply providing them with a space where they can support each other.”