Thursday, March 3, 2016

New Veteran Services Office continues OU-C tradition of helping individuals pursue their college ambitions

Pam Porter
Joshua Reisinger

A recent initiative on campus supports one of Ohio-University Chillicothe’s core values. The campus was founded in 1946, largely to allow veterans returning from World War II to utilize the GI Bill to pursue their college ambitions. In continuing that tradition, the Chillicothe Campus recently opened a Veteran Services Office in room 10 on the Bennett Hall ground floor.

A grand opening will be held for the office at 11:30 a.m. on March 9. The public is invited to attend.

The office is a true campus-community collaboration that is designed to help today’s military veterans pursue the college opportunity they have earned.

“This initiative began in 2012, when we began putting an even greater emphasis on reaching out to veterans, especially those who are returning from service in Afghanistan and Iraq,” OU-C Director of Student Services John Fisher said. “Creating this office emphasizes the importance of this outreach endeavor in a very tangible way. We want to make sure veterans have the support they need in obtaining their GI benefits, registering for college, understanding the resources that are available to them and succeeding in their college pursuits. In keeping with our mission, this is undoubtedly the right thing to do.”

To help connect with military veterans in a genuine way, the area Veterans Administration agency has funded two student-employment positions that are filled by Joshua Reisinger and Pam Porter.

Reisinger is a Marine Corps veteran who is pursuing a social work degree at OU-C. Porter is the widow of an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam. She is pursuing a degree in office technology.

“From what I have experienced military veterans are able to interact and establish more of an instant connection with a fellow veteran,” Reisinger said. “They feel as if they are talking with someone who understands their thought process and the challenges they face in making the transition to a college student.”

“For me, a college career seemed almost unattainable, until I talked with a veteran who had attended college and was able to guide me through the process. I am now looking to provide some of that help to others,” Reisinger said.

From Porter, this position puts her passion into practice.

“I met a lot of veterans when my husband was ill, and helping veterans was one of my main objectives for returning to college,” she said. “I want to make sure they are aware of the benefits that are available to them.”

Currently, there are 66 military veterans enrolled at OU-C and 13 dependents using veteran benefits to attend the Chillicothe Campus.

In connecting with the larger community, OU-C has partnered with individuals beyond campus in this endeavor. David Edwards, director of the Ohio University Veterans Center on the Athens campus, has been instrumental in helping to guide efforts at OU-C as well as all of the university’s regional campuses. Further, Patty Hamilton of the Chillicothe VA Medical Center has been a great asset in connecting with area veteran organizations and creating a regional network.

Reisinger has further goals for the campus’ veteran outreach efforts.

“We want to establish a sense of community so that veterans know there is a support structure in place and other students they can relate to,” he said. “We also want to reach out to the community and make sure other military veterans are aware of the opportunities available to them. We want to give them the confidence to take that first step and know there is someone to help them through the process.”

The entire endeavor supports OU-C’s mission of making the college dream a reality for area residents.

“Students can now get on-site assistance and can also connect with resources on the Athens campus and beyond,” Fisher said. “This office opens several doors of opportunities for veterans.”

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