University offers veterans special amenities

Raul Herrera/Staff Writer

The Tower Building, the University’s first edifice, has made University history once again.  Renovations have turned it into a center for veteran students.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs lists FIU as one of the schools with which it has expanded its VetSuccess On-Campus services.

Through this expansion, the department will help students who served in the armed forces transition from military life to on-campus life. Said expansion has allotted the creation of a VSOC facility in the Tower Building.

Michael Pischner, director of the Veteran and Military Affairs Center, said active duty is very strict.

“You know what time you’re going to eat, what you’re going to eat, what you’re going to do for the day, everything’s all laid out for you,” Pischner said. “When you leave that structured environment and come to academia it’s like chaos. [The center] gives them a place to come in and they can talk to other veterans here that have gone through the same problems.”

“It doesn’t just facilitate the enrollment of veterans, but it’s also a sort of safe haven,” said Edouard Gluck, senior criminal justice student and Iraq War veteran. “Vets understand other vets, and the center provides an all-encompassing avenue for them.”

The Tower began a year and a half ago, and “went online” the first week of August. The building will have its ribbon cutting on Oct. 21st.

According to Gluck, there are about 1,800 veterans here at the University and that this large amount indicates the necessity of this facility.

“The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created, for the first time since [World War II], the largest influx of veterans,” Gluck said.

Pischner pointed to the number being over 2,000, but that not all of them have been receiving benefits.

“We’ve got about 1,400 – 1,500 receiving some sort of educational benefit here,” Pischner said. “Not necessarily veterans, but it could be the dependent of a veteran or their spouse.”

Despite this, Pischner said that the center is also tailored towards veterans who have not received any governmental benefits. He said 812 veterans applied to the University the fall.

The funding for this expansion primarily comes from the University and the Post-9/11 GI Bill, a program that provides financial support for education and housing to those who have at least 90 days total of service after Sept. 10, 2001, or have a been honorably discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ website.

“Following 9/11, there was an addendum to the GI Bill which [gave] educational benefits to veterans,” said Gluck.

“This was all supported by the University,” Pischner said. “They’ve just done this for the veterans. They’ve always taken very good care of the veterans here.”

Pischner said that many students who have served in the military continually seek a university that is willing to work with them, the GI Bill and other financial aid. According to him, the University fits this description.

“FIU is one of the only in-state schools that is providing scholarships for the veterans that are here as an undergraduate student,” Pischner said.

The center’s lounge has a help desk, along with several couches, an information desk, a plasma screen television and several iMac desktops. These are all for the benefit of the veterans that frequent the facility, according to Gluck and Pischner.

There is also a counseling room, a conference room, a small kitchen, a processing room for those receiving the benefits of the GI Bill as well as staff offices.

In a tour of the Center, Pischner showed Student Media the areas where the facility will expand – namely a parking lot along with the patio where barbeques are hosted for student veterans.

“Student Government purchased our flags for the different services, they bought a flagpole and they’re going to put an American flag,” Pischner said, who later indicated that at some point they would use an American flag that was flown over Afghanistan.

Pischner also showed different programs that were offered to veterans as assistance to their careers. One such program is one that allows students with military medic training to qualify for a bachelor of science in nursing, according to a flier of the Department of Nursing and Health Sciences.

“Veterans are very unique and we have to honor their services,” said Gluck. “There’s a moral obligation to support veterans.”

-news@fiusm.com

1 Comment on "University offers veterans special amenities"

  1. Talk to Robert Jaross about Gluck.

    He once choked a guy for literally no reason (literally just trying to demonstrate what he can do to a bunch of strangers) while working at WRGP years ago. He also regularly threatened and yelled at women, both at the radio station and at the NOW office. He was obviously fired from WRGP.

    Guy’s a violent, unstable douche (he’s military, so not surprising).

    Why student media would choose this guy with a history of violence against student media is beyond me.

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