Through the generosity of our supporters, we have had the honor and pleasure of hosting several events and professional development opportunities for Appalachian’s student veterans (or Military Mountaineers as we like to call them).
We kicked things off with an Open House in the Student Veteran Resource Center (SVRC) on August 11th followed by free food, yard games (volleyball, spike ball, corn hole, and more), and music at our Welcome (Back) BBQ on August 15th. During the Welcome (Back) event, we hosted nearly 40 individuals, including student veterans, their loved ones (children, spouses, and friends), and supportive members of our campus community. Even though it rained, we still had an awesome turnout and a great time.
Our next round of events took place throughout Veterans Week, from November 8th through the 13th. Veterans Week was packed with programming including Marine Corps Flight Simulators, Career Development Sessions, our Veterans Day Ceremony, our Heroes Day Tailgate, and our FIRST EVER Military Mountaineer Homecoming Event. The Military Mountaineer Homecoming was a tremendous success. We brought together current and former student veterans (including an alumnus from California) and many of our fabulous supporters (donors, advocates, and friends) for an evening of fellowship, networking, and community building. Every attendee received a “Proud Military Mountaineer” t-shirt as a token of our appreciation and to remind them of our amazing community of Military Mountaineers. We also incorporated a silent auction during the event, yielding over $3,800 in donations and contributions.
In January, four of Appalachian’s student veterans, along with our Library Liaison, Emma, attended the Student Veterans of America National Conference (NATCON), and for the first time in several years, none of our attendees had any out of pocket expenses! NATCON provides a venue for student veterans from across America to gather together for networking, professional development sessions, and interview opportunities with veteran-friendly organizations. The conference also offers a wide variety of sessions aimed at improving the student veteran experience in higher education. Emma attended many of those sessions and brought back great ideas and best practices for student veteran support services.
In February, Major General (ret) Mari Eder visited Appalachian to speak to members of our campus community and share stories from her book, The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line. During her visit, SVS hosted a lunch for General Eder so she could spend time speaking directly with several of our student veterans. On April 20, we hosted our female veterans, dependents, and military spouses in an evening of painting and fellowship. We also had the pleasure of welcoming Ms. Sarah Lemire for a brunch with our student veterans when she visited campus in April. Ms. Lemire is a veteran and academic librarian who focuses on student veteran success in academia. We look forward to the information she has to share with us and the greater campus community. Finally, we gathered together for our annual Farewell Cookout on May 1st.
The last, and arguably most exciting, news we have to share from 2021/2022 is the creation of an emergency fund for student veterans with financial needs/emergencies. Aptly entitled the GY6 Emergency Scholarship for Student Veterans (GY6 Fund), this fund is the embodiment of our institutional commitment to serving those who have served. GY6 or “I’ve got your six” is a military phrase meaning “I have your back.” The GY6 Fund is a measurable and substantive example of how much we care for our student veterans and their success – personal, professional, and academic.
Candidly, none of this would have been possible without our supporters. In 2021 alone, our donors provided over $47,000 in direct contributions. We were further humbed by over $8,000 in support from iBackApp 2022. We are forever grateful for their generosity and the positive impact they have had on our organization.