ASVO seeks to serve US military veterans
Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:09
In addition to helping veterans find and apply for grants and scholarships, the Arkansas Student Veterans Organization (ASVO) provides a much needed social atmosphere for those who have served in the military.
The ASVO can help veterans’ transition from military service to an educational environment and minimize some of the shock involved, said ASVO President Nathan Thompkins, a junior disaster preparedness and emergency management major of Jonesboro.
“ASVO gives veterans a place to hang out, and people to hang out with that have shared a lot of the same experiences. They can also get some emotional, mental or physical help if they need it,” said Daniel Smith, a junior accounting major of Paragould, and ASVO treasurer.
The organization also enjoys down time at Red Wolves’ games.
The ASVO members are required to do at least two community service projects per semester, Smith said. They have done projects with Habitat for Humanity, neighborhood clean-ups, canned-food drives and painting with the local Veterans of Foreign War. They have also done remodeling jobs in a battered woman’s shelter and a home for mentally disabled children.
Along with helping in the community, the social support that can be found in the ASVO can aid veterans that may be struggling in their transition to civilian life, said Kelly McCoy, services specialist at the Beck Pride Center and the organization’s faculty adviser.
“Veterans at ASU needed a place that’s comfortable to relax and hide out. The ASVO and the Beck Pride Center provided that space, not to mention the moral support,” McCoy said. The organization’s goal is to ensure that veterans are receiving assistance and connecting with needed resources.
Any ASU student can be a member of ASVO, but only veterans can be officers within the organization, McCoy said. “The only requirement is that they must support veterans.” All funding for the organization is either donated or from selling T-shirts.
More than 350 active duty military and veterans attend school at ASU but only 35 of them are in ASVO. Most people just don’t know about ASVO, McCoy said.
“We’re going to work hard this year to let those student veterans know that we’re here for them,” she added.
The Beck Pride Center, located on the first floor of the Reynolds building, was founded in late 2007 as a result of a generous contribution from a former ASU graduate, class of 1961, Buddy Beck of Fairfax, Va. The center started with a staff of one and has come a long way, now serving more than 170 active participant veterans.
Their mission is “to provide combat wounded veterans with first class educational programs and services at Arkansas State University. These include, but are not limited to: resources to access to the higher education experience, resources for counseling, personal rehabilitation, advocacy, and financial assistance; supporting these individuals to achieve their post military service goals.”
The Beck Pride Center has been so successful that the Department of Defense has taken notice and awarded them $1.4 million to conduct a four year study of the program and create a model that can be used by universities throughout the country.
ASVO at ASU is an affiliate chapter of the Student Veterans of America (SVA). The SVA is a national organization whose mission is to provide military veterans with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and following graduation. More information about the SVA can be found at: http://www.studentveterans.org.
More information about the ASVO can be found at the Beck Pride Center on the first floor of the Reynolds building and at: http://www.astate.edu/a/beck-pride-center/.
Kelly McCoy can be contacted at 870-680-4110.