Written By Monica Lewis
With Veterans Day approaching, Howard University’s Office of Military and Veterans Services (OMVS) hosted “Coffee and Conversation: A Celebration for Student Veterans and Military-Connected Families” on Thursday, November 9.
The event also served as the official launch of OMVS’ new Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter, marking the beginning of a new era for OMVS, the division that offers a wide range of services to student veterans as well as those who are military connected, including spouses and dependents as they pursue their educational goals.
The office acts as a liaison between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the University with the processing of federal Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits, certifying enrollments to the VA, advising on procedural requirements, and providing a cultural resource for military-connected students on campus.
“Our work is so important because we’re responsible for supporting those students who, in addition to matriculating here, may also be find themselves trying to navigate life as an active duty serviceperson or having to cope with having a loved one who is in military service,” said Paris Adon, Ed.D., director of Howard University’s Student Services, which includes the Office of Military and Veterans Services.
“There’s really no better time than Veterans Day to show our appreciation for these students and families and officially launch our SVA chapter to really show just how committed we are to ensuring veteran and military-connected students know we’re here for them,” Paris continued.
Located inside the Harriet Tubman Quadrangle, OMVS is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. In October, OMVS received a $580,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education, funds that will be used to support mental health services, mindfulness programs and academic supports for veterans and military-connected students. Additionally, OMVS has recently opened its Military-Connected Student Lounge, a space where the roughly 500 veterans and military-connected students enrolled at the University can visit to unwind.
With the emergence of the Student Veterans of America chapter, OMVS and the students utilizing its services are excited to raise awareness of the support resources available for those whose lives have been personally impacted by loved ones in the military.
Morgan Scott, a sophomore supply chain management major from Birmingham, Ala., will serve as president of the SVA. Scott’s mother is in the Air Force while Scott herself is a member of the Air Force ROTC. She said participating in the SVA is an easy way to pay homage to her mother and all who sacrificed. The services provided by OMVS and SVA will be helpful to her and other students, even if they themselves have never served.
“This is the least I can do to show my appreciation,” Scott said, adding that her own upbringing was impacted by her mother’s deployment. “A lot of times, people don’t realize how much family members are impacted by service, so I’m excited to lead this chapter and see how we can let students know we’re here for them.”
Kenicia Singh, a freshman marketing major from Philadelphia, Pa., agreed.
“Although many of us are not in the military, we still represent the military, and working with SVA is a way to say, ‘thank you’ to our American heroes,” said Singh, whose mother served in the Air Force while raising three daughters as a single mother. “Veterans Day is a day to extend our thanks to veterans and their families for the sacrifices made and, as a child of a military servicewoman, I know that the sacrifices are a lot.”