Becoming a home to military veterans

In late September, Oakland University received its second straight mention as a veteran-friendly school by GI Jobs Magazine.

Coinciding with this year’s Veterans Day, the Veteran Support Services office, Student Veterans of Oakland and OU Student Congress are sponsoring the first annual Veterans Day forum to discuss veterans in the community and in higher education.

The panel will take place on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. in the Lake Superior Rooms and will include student veterans as well as Oakland staff and faculty who have served in the armed forces.

“Veterans Day is important to remember because it reminds us of the sacrifices made by those who died in service as well as those who made it back safely, but gave years of their life in defense of the freedoms we continue to enjoy as Americans,” said Michael Brennan, the Veteran Support Services office’s veteran liaison.

“I hope attendees get a better picture of what military life is like, and what life as a veteran is like, as well as gain an awareness of what veterans are able to bring to the community through their experiences.”

One of the faculty members on the panel, professor Fred Hoffman, hopes to shed light on the many benefits of having student veterans on OU’s campus. Hoffman served in the US Army during the 1970s.

“This will be my first forum, but I hope attendees will take away from the forum a heightened recognition, not only of the numbers of men and women in our student population who have served in the military,” Hoffman said, “but also an appreciation of the diversity and enrichment they bring to the campus and classroom from their service experiences.”

Putting a face to a student veteran’s name is important for another panelist, SVOU president and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Marc Hobart.

“We’re an interesting bunch of people…the camaraderie we share is like family,” he said.

“This will be an interesting chance in our first annual Veteran’s Day forum for students and professors to get some first hand of knowledge of what it means to us to be a veteran,” Hobart said. “Students will be able to ask questions to the panel and we will have several generations of veterans on the panel.”

“I would hope the attendees gain a little more insight on veterans and Veteran’s Day. There already seems to be an appreciation for veterans, but putting a face on it is important. Students here have a great many veterans walking the halls with them and maybe now they will see one and even say ‘thank you.'”

“I think the GI Jobs Military Friendly Schools distinction highlights the values that we as a university hold in regard to our military and veteran students.”

GI Jobs evaluates the schools that apply, while only the top 15 percent of the schools in the nation are recognized,  he said.

“This should hold substantial weight in the mind of a veteran deciding where to pursue higher education.”

Hobart said the distinction that OU is a military-friendly school is vital.

“It says to all veterans, ‘Here is your new home, we will take care of you and thank you for your service.’  It should help all veterans when deciding between two or three different colleges,” he said.

“Veteran friendly means you have resources that you can go to.”

Hoffman considers the accolade a major sign that Oakland has made a serious commitment to helping veterans continue and complete their education in a positive manner.

“New student veterans have been very appreciative of the fact that the VSS office is here.  A lot of universities do not have one and it really shows the veterans that OU is a welcoming community and that we are here to help them in any way possible,” Brennan said.

For more information about veteran services or the upcoming veterans forum, students can contact Brennan at 248- 370-2010 or visit the VSS office in 103A North Foundation Hall.