Lourdes College is working to make veterans more comfortable on campus.
In anticipation of an increase in students taking advantage of the new Post 9/11 GI Bill, the college created a Veterans Center and hired a veterans assistant to help veterans who choose to study at Lourdes.
"Sometimes veterans find it hard to relate to students because they've seen the world in such a different lens," said Kimberly Grieve, Lourdes' dean of students and assistant vice president of student services. "We are trying to give them all the services they need to be successful."
That includes their own area to gather in the new Veterans Center that also includes the office of Michael Gill-Jacobson, an Army veteran hired to work with them.
The Veterans Center will open with an event at 9:30 a.m. today in the Franciscan Theatre and Conference Center with Brig. Gen.
Rufus J. Smith and other military dignitaries.
A tour of the Veterans Center in the lower level of St. Francis Hall will follow.
The center is a revamped student area with couches and tables, computers, televisions, a Wii game system, foosball table, and snacks.
Mr. Gill-Jacobson, 54, is there if students have questions about financial aid, veterans benefits, or anything else.
"We're getting a good group of young veterans come back in and it's neat to be able to serve them because they have paid a debt for our country," he said. "It's neat to get them on the right footing when they first come back."
Mr. Gill-Jacobson served three years in the Army from 1975 to 1978 before briefly attending college at Ohio University.
He then went on to work for the Ohio National Guard for 24 years and retired in 2004 as a staff sergeant.
Mr. Gill-Jacobson said he hopes his experiences will make veterans feel more comfortable coming to him and that the Veterans Center will be a place for them to be a community.
Lourdes also recently hired Jose Rosales to serve as a multicultural assistant in the office of diversity and multicultural services.
Mr. Rosales, who also is a veteran who served in the Marine Corps, has an office near the Veterans Center as well.
Ms. Grieve said the college is trying to add more support services for the variety of students on campus, and those with specific needs such as the veteran population.
Lourdes had 22 veterans last spring, which increased to 33 students this fall.
The college expects that number to grow as more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans pursue higher education.
"They are both transitioning into coming back to this country and also are going back to school," Ms. Grieve said. "We have to help them with those changes."