Twenty-eight percent of Regent University students are active-duty or retired members of the military, or are spouses or children to those who serve or have served. An organization that helps military veterans transition to student life launched this fall. Regent University’s Student Veterans Alliance brings together faculty, staff and students from military and non-military backgrounds to support veterans.
Lance Holter ’16 (College of Arts & Sciences) is a veteran Marine. He said he faced many life challenges transitioning to academic life when he first became a student, and noticed other veterans in classes experiencing similar struggles. He teamed up with some of them, including Ron Riffle ’16 (CAS), a retired chief petty officer in the Navy, to bring Student Veterans Alliance to Regent.
Holter is now president of the organization that is already 26 members strong and has gained support from Regent’s deans, professors, staff and the Office of Military & Veterans Affairs. The goal is to provide veterans with resources they need to transition, as well as connect them with campus organizations and people who support the military. Regent’s new group is also an official chapter of Student Veterans of America (SVA), and this recognition can provide scholarships, grants, fellows and leadership conferences to group members.
“We want to serve the military and veteran community, but this is not about isolating ourselves. We want to allow the external community to have access to see the military and have a shared experience,” said Holter. “There is an apparent disconnect between the nation’s all-volunteer military and the civilian population it protects. This is a way to share stories so others can learn about the military and veteran community. It is open to everyone.”
The new organization is engaging in several efforts. The first is to provide a coaching and mentoring network for student veterans. The organization will pair mentors who have successfully transitioned to student life with those who are making the transition. They will assist with life transition issues, like moving, and will help answer questions, especially about benefits, so students can concentrate on schoolwork and succeed academically.
“We want to connect vets with those who understand the academic process,” said Holter. “Someone who will mentor them through the process so they can get work done, and someone who will continue to coach these new students so they can continue to improve.”
Another effort is to join those with military experience and those who want to support the military. The Student Veterans Alliance is already actively involved in partnering with other student organizations to volunteer on campus. Members hope these efforts will make Regent more well-known as a community that supports its veterans.
“This will bode well with the incoming freshmen,” said Riffle. “They’ll see we’re doing this around campus. It’s a vision Lance and I have had for eight months to unite the process. That’s why it’s for anyone who wants to join and help vets.”
Dr. Caramine (Carrie) White, associate professor in CAS, brings her experience as a Navy veteran to her role of faculty advisor for the Student Veterans Alliance. The group is getting ready to host its first meeting on September 22, followed by monthly meetings and one social or outreach event each quarter. It will also recognize official veteran ceremonies and reach out to Regent’s ROTC students. Members are also looking at ways to engage students online as well as on campus.
The Student Veterans Alliance held its first official meeting September 22. Veterans and those who have a heart to serve veterans are asked to contact Holter for more information about the Students Veterans Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org. The group is planning on launching a Facebook page.
Learn more about Regent’s military benefits.