UNC Asheville Opens New Student Veteran Center for Excellence; Ribbon-Cutting on May 10

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UNC Asheville Veteran Center for Excellence

UNC Asheville will celebrate the opening of the university’s new Veteran Center for Excellence with a graduation celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony for student veterans at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10 in Highsmith Union. The Veteran Center for Excellence is funded by a $10,000 Vet Center Initiative grant from the Student Veterans of America (SVA) and the Home Depot Foundation.

The Veteran Center for Excellence will serve as a place for UNC Asheville’s student veterans to study and relax, and as the meeting place for members of the Veterans Alliance student organization. The space will also house a library and repository for resources for student veterans, facilitate collaborations between the Veterans Alliance and other student organizations, and be a designated space for Green Zone trainings, which helps participants develop an understanding for the challenges faced by student veterans.

“Being able to have a quiet space that is still part of the student union action, designed specifically for veterans, is important,” said UNC Asheville alumna Tammy Walsh, who served as the student supervisor for veterans’ programs at UNC Asheville and wrote the Vet Center Initiative grant application. “I hope the center is a jumping-off point for bigger and better things for our student veterans on campus.”

SVA and The Home Depot Foundation launched the Vet Center Initiative in 2014 as part of SVA’s mission to provide veterans with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and following graduation.

“We saw an opportunity to engage more of the veterans on campus, and do a little giving back and leave something behind,” said Chris Nettles, U.S. Army veteran and president of the Veterans Alliance at UNC Asheville for 2016 and spring 2017. “People go to work, and they go home, and research shows that everyone needs a third space that they can go to. For a lot of vets, there’s not an opportunity to have a third space. Especially when they are fulltime students and busy with family; some of them have kids and another job. That was a big reason for us building the space as we did.”

The space features comfortable furniture, with photographs and artwork displayed on freshly painted walls creating a homey feeling; a meeting space with a large conference table; a resource library and a kitchenette.

Nettles and his fellow graduating veterans will receive red, white and blue cords to wear with their commencement regalia at the graduation ceremony before the ribbon cutting. Eight veterans will graduate from UNC Asheville this semester.

The opening of the Veteran Center for Excellence comes as Highsmith Union prepares to undergo renovations, which will bring the student experience to the front and center of the building. The Veteran Center will not be affected by upcoming renovations to the building.

For more information about UNC Asheville programs and services for student military service members and veterans, visit transition.unca.edu/veterans-programs-and-services.