New lounge gives veterans space to study, meet students from similar backgrounds

Lounge is part of effort to integrate vet, military students into campus life

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A newly opened student lounge gives military-affiliated students a space to work, relax and meet others with similar life experiences on campus.

The lounge, located in SU 321, has two rooms: one for socializing, furnished with couches, a TV and an Xbox, and another conference-style room for group study. Only military-affiliated students have access to the lounge, which opened this semester after a donation from a WWII veteran, Efner “Lucky” Davis, 91.

Prior to the donation, veterans had a small lounge area on South Campus. Dan Ryan, director of veteran services, said the North Campus space will hopefully reach more students.

Jacob Wahler, a freshman business administration major, heard about the lounge from a classmate.

“I think it’s great. I was impressed when I first came in,” Wahler said. “There’s plenty of room and I’m happy they have the Xbox and TV.”

The lounge is just one way UB is trying to integrate military-affiliated students into campus life.

“Oftentimes there is a huge cultural divide between the vet students and what you would consider a traditional student,” Ryan said. “Something that is relevant to an older veteran could be completely irrelevant to a current student at UB.”

The lounge comes alongside a separate effort among faculty to better bridge the gap for students from military to university life. Michael Hatton, a professor in the dental school, is leading a committee within the Faculty Senate to look at issues facing the 482-plus military-affiliated students at UB.

Ryan describes these students as “a group that isn’t needy, but needs things.”

For example, some veterans don’t come forward to ask for help with problems, whether it’s something small like finding the right tutor, or as important as financial aid questions, according to Ryan.

He said this is partly because of their life experiences. Veteran students are often used to high-stress scenarios, and may feel less comfortable asking for help than the average freshman. Military-affiliated students may also have a stronger sense of independence, since many begin school later in life or have started families.

Student Veterans Association, which host events from cookouts to community service activities, is another resource available to help vet students adjust to university life.

In the group’s most recent community service project, students painted a shelter used for Dog T.A.G.S., a service dog training program for veterans suffering from service-connected PTSD or traumatic brain injury. Members of the group spend roughly 10 hours a week helping to train service dogs as part of the Dog T.A.G.S. program.

UB also plans to roll out a veteran student-mentoring program, according to Ryan. The program will pair upperclassmen veterans with incoming students. Ryan said the program would drastically help integrate students.

“The problem is not the under abundance of programs, it’s the under utilization of these programs by our veterans,” Ryan said.

Noah Moyer is a staff writer and can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com.