A group of student veterans at Clemson University is opening a center on campus designed to help other veterans navigate the transition from the battlefield to campus.
The Student Veterans Association will cut the ribbon to open the Student Veterans Success Center and GI Bill Help Desk at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, in Barre Hall room 229.
The center will be staffed by volunteers from the Student Veterans Association and be a resource for veterans who need help with Veterans Affairs and GI Bill paperwork and as a support network as veterans adjust to college life.
“When a veteran enrolls at any university, they face many unique challenges and issues," said David Thompson, president of the Student Veterans Association at Clemson. "They’re non-traditional students, some of them are married, some of them have families, and it’s very difficult to juggle all of that while also trying to integrate into a whole different setting.
"In the military, we’re used to having each other’s backs. This is one way we can help other student veterans; we feel like it’s our duty,” he said.
Thompson said one of his goals in opening the center is to make Clemson a more accessible and attractive university for veterans.
“We want Clemson to be a school that veterans want to attend. Student veterans are good for the university and good for the student body. They bring diversity and a unique perspective to campus,” Thompson said.
Thompson, a Greenwood native and Army veteran who was deployed three times to Afghanistan, is one of approximately 200 veterans enrolled at Clemson. He said Clemson’s chapter of the Student Veterans Association has about 30 active members, and that there are 700 chapters at colleges and universities around the nation.
Michael Dakduk, executive director of Student Veterans of America, will speak at Friday's ribbon-cutting. Dakduk is a Marine veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008, he left active service to complete his bachelor’s degree at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where he started a chapter of the Student Veterans Association. He served as national vice president of Student Veterans of America and now works full time as an advocate for all student veterans.
Clemson also will recognize veterans at the men’s basketball team’s Military Appreciation Day game at noon Saturday in Littlejohn Coliseum. Many student veterans, along with ROTC members and other veterans, will be recognized throughout the game. There will be a special presentation at halftime to the family of Maj. William Edward Worthy, a Clemson alumnus from the Class of 1955 who was killed serving in Vietnam.