PARKERSBURG - Dozens of veterans, residents and area officials gathered Monday at West Virginia University at Parkersburg to celebrate the official opening of the college's Veterans Resource Center.
The center, which occupies the former child care facility near WVU-P's multi-purpose room, serves as a resource and meeting place for the college's veteran students.
Anthony Underwood, WVU-P vice president for student services, said the center is a "physical manifestation of the college's mission" to provide academic and social opportunities combined with a safe and welcoming environment for the area's veterans.
Photo by Michael Erb
Shawn Healy, left, veteran advocate for West Virginia University at Parkersburg, and Jared Towner, vice president of the WVU-P Veterans Corps, stand next to a sign for the grand opening of the college’s new Veterans Resource Center. Dozens of veterans and community members who attended Monday’s events signed their names, welcoming the newly opened facility to the Parkersburg campus.
The plan for the center began about a year ago and led to the hiring of Shawn Healy as the college's veteran advocate. Healy said Monday he has firsthand knowledge of the struggles faced by veterans and how the transition from military service to college can be jarring.
"I plan on ensuring the veterans that they will have a place to come and feel a little at home with the Veterans Resource Center," Healy said. "Veterans will be able to study, create new camaraderie, communicate and help fight those battles in our local community."
The center is heavily supported by the Veterans Corps of WVU-P, a student organization for veterans to helps mentor veterans and completes community service projects, such as a recent fund-raising initiative and drive to provide necessities for homeless veterans in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Jared Towner, vice president of the Veterans Corps, said the center and services will allow veterans to receive the help they sometimes are hesitant to ask for because it comes from fellow veterans and those who understand. Towner said each veteran brings their own unique problems and hopes to the table, but together they are able to form a union of support.
"It's been a struggle at times," he said, "but your presence here today let's us know there are better days ahead."