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New addition to Biola’s veteran culture

To better represent and support student veterans on campus, a new student-run chapter, the Biola Veterans Association is ready to get down to business with its election on Oct. 19.

providing a space for veterans

After attending the Student Veterans of America conference last January, director of Commuter Life Katie Tuttle and administrative coordinator Jennifer Alvarez reviewed Biola’s veteran culture from the past four years and decided there was still room for improvement in terms of resources. Working with Student Success and two veteran students, they formed BVA in July by creating the essential governing documents and elected positions needed for the approximate 120 veterans here.

The main goals of BVA include aiding veterans in their adjustment to student life as well as supporting their spiritual and emotional well-being through the promotion of campus services, according to its statement in an email. Its reach also extends to active duty military members who are current students as well as their families.

As a way of shaping the organization and its roles, Tuttle hopes to provide a space for veterans on campus. A successful negotiation with Biola to allot a space would allow Tuttle to apply for a $10,000 grant to build a veterans center, which she believes is the standard for best practices in treating veterans well.

Alvarez, who comes from a family of military veterans, fully agrees with Tuttle that the center will provide a friendly location especially for service members to cultivate better relationships between each other.

“Veterans face many challenges your typical student might not face,” Alvarez said. “We hope that BVA will fill in that gap by connecting [veterans] with other veterans.”

increasing veteran support

Despite the present lack of a physical veterans center, the veterans at Biola continue to push BVA towards other impactful developments. This fall marked the first-ever veterans orientation in which returning veteran students met face-to-face with new veteran students as peer leaders to connect them to available resources.

“I have been so deeply impressed by our veterans here,” Tuttle said. “They are so committed to this place and they really want to see Biola become more veteran friendly.”

With BVA advancing slowly but surely, senior English major Eric Davis, who served the country in the army national guard for nine years, looks forward to its arrival.

“Sounds like a good thing,” Davis said. “It can be difficult for military people to assimilate back into civilian life so the understanding [from BVA] is helpful.”

Candidates who win the BVA election will soon start the official running of the association under the guidance of Alvarez as their adviser. From there, they hope to keep generating new ideas that will increase veteran support and even consider opening up membership to non-veteran students in the future.

 

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