Pat Tillman Veterans Center opens in Memorial Union

 

The Pat Tillman Veterans Center opened Tuesday in the lower level of the Memorial Union becoming ASU’s first centralized office designed to help veteran students transition from the military to college life.

In 2002, former ASU student-athlete Pat Tillman left the NFL to serve his country. He became an inspiration to many Americans after his death in 2004 while serving in the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan.

A large crowd of students and faculty, many dressed in uniform, attended Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony to honor Tillman and commemorate the unveiling.

In a speech, veteran and graduate student Jason Ohanian explained how different the college experience is for veteran students transitioning from battle zones to classrooms.

“I know for a lot of veterans, it’s tough to go back to school,” Ohanian said. “Let’s face it, you’re probably a little bit older. You have more (of a) journey and a lot more life experience. You’re just not the same as a usual student.”

While some students still remain unaware of the services provided to veterans, Ohanian thinks that having the center will help raise awareness of the community of servicemen and women on campus.

Michael McBride, assistant director of undergraduate admissions and Pat Tillman’s former academic adviser, emphasized the importance of encouraging veteran students to complete their academic programs and earn their degrees.

“For a university, retention is really based on not necessarily what happens in the class, but what happens outside of class and how engaged you are with other students and organizations,” McBride said.

“More than anything else, (the new center is) going to be a really important place for people to get to know each other, rely on each other for help and support whenever you need it.”

ASU Vice Provost of Enrollment Management Kent Hopkins called the center a “one-stop shop” for veteran students because of the array of services provided to them.

“It’s also a community,” he said. “There’s a lounge so students can hang out; there’s computer clusters; it’s a common space for the student veterans.”

Ohanian said when people join the military or become a veteran, they are part of a big family.

“And families take care of each other,” he said.

Reach the reporter at kmmandev@asu.edu

 

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