Home Opinion Keeping Montclair State University a Military Friendly Campus

Keeping Montclair State University a Military Friendly Campus

by Babee Garcia

Conor Abbamonte wearing a suit at the LinkedIn for Veterans Program event.
Photo Courtesy of FourBlock Veterans Program

Montclair State University is a military-friendly institution that welcomes veterans, reservists and active duty service members with open arms.

The Student Veterans Association(SVA) is an organization that welcomes everyone to attend their general meetings. From student-veterans of all branches to those who are not affiliated with the military, all are received with open arms. People like Veteran Certifying Official Kenneth Key, Retention Specialist and Veteran Advisor Mahfuza Kochi and Office of Undergraduate Admissions Recruiter Jeff Bendett, provide student-veterans with academic assistance to help them achieve success.

Montclair State was ranked number 165 out of the 1,423 top colleges for veterans nationwide by collegefactual.com. There is even a Canvas student-veteran community group where they receive notifications, newsletters, scholarship information and career opportunities.

Despite all the resources and programs offered to student-veterans, Montclair State is misunderstanding what student-veterans need. The Student Veterans Association (SVA) is missing the recognition and appreciation it deserves.

A program that I dislike as a student-veteran myself is the Veteran to Veteran Peer Mentorship Program. I find it to be a complete waste of time, as many student-veterans have spent time being told what to do and how to do it during the course of their military career. I would rather meet other student-veterans on my own terms rather than be assigned to one.

In the military, each branch encourages the buddy system and maintaining a mentorship program. Because of this, adult veterans who have transitioned into civilian life should not feel the need to abide by another mentorship system.

A program that I do enjoy that involves mentorship would be the Agents of Change, which helps students achieve their academic and personal goals. It also works to help students improve their leadership skills. This is a program that I attend by choice.

On Friday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. at University Hall, the first Voices of Valor program meeting took place. It is designed to translate a service member’s military experience into song. An email exchange with Mahfuza Kochi informed me that only one student-veteran was present. If this program does not have at least six more members by this Friday, the program will no longer continue.

I would love to participate in the program, but my class schedule conflicts with the program’s hours. While I am interested in the program, many veterans may not feel comfortable opening up to strangers about their military experiences or channeling them into a song.

In the last year I have noticed that in spite of how incredibly hardworking the SVA members are, they are still under the radar. The SVA still does not have a large membership. They also do not have many co-sponsorships with other organizations, which could potentially draw more students to attend their events.

The Volunteer Center organized a few military related events. I attended the “thank you” card making for the troops and distributing care packages to homeless veterans event. Although the 9/11 Day of Service was very successful, it would have been better if the SVA was there to contribute other items for the care packages, delegate tasks for students or help students create messages within their cards.

I recently spoke to SVA president, Conor Abbamonte, who served as a Petty Officer Second Class Master at Arms (MA2) in the Navy about having the organization more acknowledged around campus and giving student-veterans more opportunities that they want to capitalize on.

“The SVA is rechartering and making new efforts to provide new information on veteran resources,” Abbamonte said.

As a member of both the veteran and Montclair State community, my mission is to ensure that student-veterans have their voices heard and are provided what they need in order to make the most of their college experience. This demographic consists of adults who are married, financially independent, leaders, mature, disciplined and have seen different parts of the world. I hope that Montclair State continues to foster student-veterans and provide them with exciting opportunities.

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