Christian DiLuzio, a veteran and a political science major, addressed the question, “Do veterans have a voice at Westfield State University?” by saying, “Not yet, that’s the biggest purpose of the Westfield State Veterans Association. We need to mentor, support, and be a fellowship to the three-hundred-plus veterans we have on this campus.”
The Westfield State Veterans Association is a new club started last semester, and plans to do some exciting things on campus. The Westfield State University Veterans and Military Service Coordinator, William LaFever, is responsible for bringing the group to life. Westfield State University is known as a military friendly school, and with a new club on campus focusing on military and veteran issues; it can only strengthen the school. It’s the Westfield State Veterans Associations’ goal to welcome all people to the club meetings. You don’t have to be a veteran, service member, or in the National Guard to be a part of the club. The club wants supporters and a network that would be healthy to military, veteran affairs, and all that attend.
Malcom Yekhtikian, a veteran student on campus said in regards to his professors, “My professors recognize I’m a veteran and support me.” Many students on campus want encouragement and support, and when a professor conveys support it means a great deal to veterans. It’s important to remember that not all students at Westfield State University come freshly out of high school. There are students who have jobs, families, serve in the military, and are veterans.
Yekhtikian also said in regards to veterans having a voice on campus: “Holyoke Community College had a lounge and that helped bridge the veterans’ community, because veterans are non-traditional students. Westfield State University doesn’t have a veterans lounge and that impedes us! Not having a lounge takes away our community!”
We have many students on the Westfield State University campus who come from vastly different walks of life with many different life experiences. As a result, these students can add a great depth to the classroom and engage in creative ways in student activities and other events that happen around campus. Are you aware that this semester we have 252 veterans, active duty, and reserves, and 43 dependents using benefits, making the total to 295 on our campus? We also have 100 distant learners. “The average age of a veteran on campus is twenty-nine years old,” said LeFever.
The president of the Westfield State Veterans Association is Uriah Smith, a junior in the political science degree program. He served our country in the United States Marine Corp as an E4 Corporal and was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. Smith was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He jokes and says that he faced many sand storms and camel spiders. Uriah Smith is a great leader and plans to lead the Westfield State Veterans Association in making a lasting impact on our campus. He, along with all the members of the club, welcomes you to join. Uriah’s response to the question “Do Veterans have a voice at Westfield State University?” was, “We have a voice and it’s growing. We need more people to come to the meetings and to have fun.”
The Westfield State Veterans Association meets the first and third Wednesday of every month. The club meetings will be located in Wilson Hall, room 112. The club also has a new Facebook page. You can “Like it” at https://www.facebook.com/westfieldstateveteransassociation to find out what the Westfield State Veterans Association is doing and to get involved.