The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

Veterans and Military students feel overlooked; lost at SSU

At SSU, the voices of veterans and military affiliated students can become lost because their experiences are different from the average student population. 

According to the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs, “Only 15 percent of student veterans are the same age as traditional college students.” Most often, student veterans are older between the ages of 24-30. Some of these students have families of their own.

“Being a student here I am very aware of my age since the majority of people in my classes are younger than me.” said Jessica Bergler, a fourth year psychology student and a veteran. 

Navy veteran Sean Pentecost, a third year business major and econ minor, says he didn’t go to the welcoming events put on by SSU because he couldn’t bring his wife and children. 

“Really they were thinking about students trying to separate from their parents for the first time and didn’t want parents there. But older students weren’t considered”. 

Military affiliated students often get overlooked on campus which results in them having to find the resources they need on their own. 

“I feel alone when relating to others about the difficulties of being a student that gets benefits from the VA,” said Shawnia Ard, third year business administration student and the president of the Student Veterans Club. 

Pentecost thinks there should have been a part of orientation focused on students using VA benefits. 

If you don’t pay your tuition in time, you risk being dropped from your classes. Sometimes, the VA isn’t processed on time which can cause a panic in students. 

“They really hammer on it but never once talked about any exceptions,” said Pentecost.

If you’re using VA benefits, the school will put a hold on your account rather than being dropped from classes. Information like this is often hidden which leads to students having to scramble to figure out how to deal with their VA benefits. 

One campus resource that can help students using VA benefits is MAVRC, which stands for Military and Veterans Resource Center. However, military affiliated students feel that it needs to be expanded. 

“We have MAVRC but the size of it is insufficient for the amount of military affiliated students we have,”  said Bergler. 

Military affiliated students set an example for other students on campus. “They are emotionally mature, goal-oriented, mission-driven, experienced leaders.” explained Alison Lightball in an article about student veterans. 

Bergler credits the military for helping her be successful at SSU. “The military taught me how to be disciplined, and how to manage my time.”

Pentecost went through two years of difficult schooling to be a nuclear operator for nuclear reactors on submarines. “I had to learn different study techniques that worked for me so I could become certified as an operator…Those study techniques I carry with me today.” 

As midterms and finals approach, college students are often stressed out about preparing for exams or writing essays. For veterans like Pentecost, their experience in the military allows them to not get overwhelmed by school. 

“In the navy, the stakes were a lot higher,” says Pentecost. Therefore, it makes the challenges in school easier to manage. 

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