The University of Oregon held a week long celebration to honor and appreciate student veterans on campus. However, this week also brought attention to the inaccessible resources provided for student veterans and the hardships they encounter when returning home. Samantha Roberts, the veteran program coordinator, explained the challenges student veterans face enrolled at the university.
Read the story below.
The Change from Awareness to Appreciation
Veterans Appreciation Week brought attention to the lack of resources for student veterans at the University of Oregon.
The goal of Samantha Roberts, the veterans program coordinator, for this week was to have fewer events and more resources. There are 400 veterans that are enrolled in the academic school year, but many do not participate in the events due to the lack of support and space provided by the university.
According to Roberts, the university does a good job recognizing and caring about what the students have to say, but the program still needs money. “Having more money will result in better collaborations with other programs and more space for our veteran community to feel comfortable and welcomed,” said Roberts.
There are multiple things the university has to work on to better accommodate student veterans, one being priority registration. Registration affects their living situation because if they are not taking enough credits, they are not eligible for housing.
Roberts explained the fight for priority registration and how veterans are just as important as athletes and dreamers who receive priority. Not qualifying for certain aspects the university provides highly affects veterans. “It’s almost like they are saying we are not a priority,” said Roberts.
Roberts is also the spouse of Andrew Roberts, a reserve officer who has experienced first hand the difficulties of coming back home and adjusting to a life without war, fear and chaos surrounding you.
Andrew Roberts was not a student veteran at the university but noticed the lack of support given to the program. Roberts understands the hardships that student veterans are confronted with when returning home. “I had a lot of things to sort through and military culture provided many resources, but on the outside, veteran resources are scarce,” he said.
Women veterans also have trouble accessing appropriate resources and support, similar to women who are a part of the university’s United States Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
Women in ROTC receive similar services as men but some women still feel they are under appreciated and not acknowledged within the program. Senior Tess Barber has been a part of ROTC since the first day of her freshman year and has experienced the highs and lows.
ROTC has helped Barber become a more well-rounded person who can accomplish and manage many different responsibilities. However, “As a woman in ROTC, I have to work twice as hard to get the same recognition as men,” she said. “I don’t think I am treated any different as a woman but my accomplishments do go unnoticed.”
The university has developed focus groups to determine the positives and negatives in the Veteran and Family Student association. However, the VFSA groups do not help ROTC members but creating groups that do target them will help establish a better support system.
“The word unity perfectly describes veterans appreciation week,” said Roberts. Student veterans, as well as those on the outside, showed they all belong in the same community.