New support group helps veterans

Published by adviser, Author: Samantha Figard - Rocket Contributor, Date: October 15, 2015
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Students and staff gathered in the Robert M. Smith Student Center on Monday for a Military Support Group to help aid families with loved ones in the military and current students who are in the military now.
Graduate student Kara Werkmeister created the Military Support Group as a way to bring students together who are sharing similar experiences involving loved ones currently or previously active in all branches of the military. The organization will host support group meetings for students, as well as offer volunteer opportunities beneficial towards military members and SRU alumni.
“I wanted to start the club because I personally identify as a student connected with the military, and I know that I’ve had my own struggles in dealing with everything that comes along with caring about someone in the military,” Werkmeister said. “Knowing that I’ve personally had a difficult time, I decided to do something to help other students on campus who may be going through similar situations. I had met two or three fellow students who were connected to the military on campus on my own, and thought, ‘this is awesome, but there has to be more of us at Slippery Rock. We should really start a group.”
Associate professor of military science, Captain Joseph Barrow attended the first meeting for the Military Support Group not only in support of the organization, but also as a resource for members in attendance who may have had questions so he could offer insight. Barrow is not alone in his support for this organization; Residence Life and the Student Veterans Association are also teaming up with the Military Support Group.
“We envision ROTC, SVA and the Military Support Group working in partnership to more effectively support the military community,” Barrow said. “There was a lot of energy in the room and a real sense of purpose.”
Students do not necessarily need to be affiliated with someone from the military to be a part of the organization. The Military Support Group will be responsible for service projects that will benefit troops like making care packages and students with an interest in volunteer service are welcome to participate in the various activities the organization will take on.
“We will be doing numerous service projects for military veterans and active duty service men and women,” Werkmeister said. “It always helps to actually do something, especially when you can’t always help or communicate with someone you care about specifically.”
The Military Support Group is open to all SRU students interested. Through this organization, students can strive to “support each other and support our troops.”
“The military, no matter the branch, rank, or affiliation, it’s all a unique kind of bond, and the military-connected students, the ones who understand what it’s like to worry about their loved ones while trying to make it through school, those students are united in a unique way as well,” Werkmeister said. “I just want our students to know, whether they identify as a military connected student, veteran, active duty military member, or in the reserves, I want them to know that we support them, and that they’re not on this campus alone.”

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