After seven years in the marines, freshman Sean Hagstrom, a major in exercise science, is attempting to bring more attention to veterans on campus through a new organization. The Student Vet Association will be focusing heavily on veterans that return home from overseas and attend higher educational institutions.
“When a military service member comes back to school, we bring with us a very different perspective. Most of us are non-traditional students, as well,” Hagstrom said. Anything that a veteran student might need, that is what The Student Veteran Association will provide.”
“It isn’t just vets that we are trying to help. Some students have family that served and are going through an adjustment, as well,” Hagstrom said. “Also, anyone that wants to help someone that is a vet or assist existing members is welcome.”
In order to be an officer in the organization though, one must be a veteran. However, there is a position Hagstrom is calling “dependents of vets” and no military experience is necessary for holding it.
“I feel like a have the full support of the administration on this. And that’s a good feeling. It’s also the most important part of a student organization” Hagstrom said.
According to Hagstrom, the organization is important because of the fact that graduation rates directly affect state funding for colleges.
The program could span in many directions. Former Marine student at Maryville College David Johnson is an officer in the Student Veteran Association. Currently, the goal of the group is to bring awareness to exactly such issues and problems of veterans like graduation rate.
“Eighty percent of former armed services members return to school after touring overseas,” Johnson said. “Currently, only five percent make it to graduation.”
Hagstrom said that he has high hopes for the organization and as it stands, 28 people have expressed interest and he is grateful for the support the school has shown the group.
“Most of the people that have signed up have family in the military. The emotional aspect will be on the forefront,” Hagstrom said. “My expectations are high. One hundred percent graduation for veteran students across the board would be nice.”
Anyone interested in The Student Veteran Association, you can contact Sean Hagstrom via his student email.