Portland State University (PSU), whose student body contains a higher proportion of military veterans than any other Oregon university, is launching a Veteran's Resource Center (VRC), a new service for veteran students attending PSU.
The VRC will be housed in the Office of the Dean of Student Life on the fourth floor of Smith Memorial Student Union. It will be headed by a full-time Coordinator of Student Veteran's Services as well as student staff.
“The VRC will substantially elevate the level of services the University provides to veterans, and will help veterans transitioning from combat to college to succeed academically, to thrive socially, to graduate, and to meet their educational and career goals,” said Michele Toppe, PSU’s Dean of Student Life.
Approximately 1,000 veterans are enrolled at PSU. That figure has grown steadily since 2008, and is projected to grow further as overseas troop deployments decline.
“Student veterans enhance our campus life in significant ways,” Toppe said. “The wealth of experience and skills they bring makes our campus a better, more diverse, aware, and civil place.”
However, Toppe said veterans face a number of challenges different than those faced by other students. Many have had long absences from academic life, requiring remedial work; they often have the burden of Veterans Administration red tape and paperwork; many experience a sense of alienation from other classmates and a sense of withdrawal; and some have physical injuries – including brain injuries – and experience depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
VRC staff will create and host new academic workshops to help veterans with long-range academic planning, and monitor veterans’ academic performance to make sure they are staying on track and getting help when needed. The VRC also will help veterans with career services, including helping them choose majors and careers, decide on graduate schools, obtain jobs, and assist in marketing their military experience.
The VRC will build upon other resources already at Portland State, including Veterans Services, Viking Vets, and VetSuccess, a vocational program run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The University has a long history of veteran involvement. It was founded in 1946 as the Vanport Extension Center to accommodate returning World War II veterans.
The new center is expected to open by the fall, in time for the 2013-14 academic year.
About Portland State University (PSU)
Located in Portland, Oregon, PSU has about 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. PSU’s motto is “Let Knowledge Serve the City,” and we provide every student with opportunities to work with businesses, schools and organizations on real-world projects. Our downtown campus exhibits PSU’s commitment to sustainability with green buildings, while sustainability is incorporated into much of the curriculum.