This past Memorial Day, Britney Holland, a senior business major at Loyola Marymount University, reached a conclusion that veterans were being overlooked on campus: No special events were planned to celebrate the national holiday. An army veteran herself, she decided to establish a group to support students who are military veterans, and her project earned her a public service scholarship from the Donald A. Strauss Foundation.
The Strauss scholarship, which includes an award of $10,000, is intended to encourage college seniors to pursue public service and work for social change. Holland hopes the LMU student-veteran group will function as a support network, service organization and information clearinghouse. Because of recent amendments to the U.S. GI bill, Holland feels that many veterans need up-to-date information about financial aid and paying for a college degree. After deciding to return to college after four years of active duty, including one in Iraq, she knows the challenges veterans face in learning all they need to know.
Holland believes that volunteering will be an important part of the group’s work. One project she has her sights set on is an Alternative Break trip in spring 2010. Students will spend a week remodeling the homes of disabled veterans. The location is not yet confirmed, but the group will probably travel to Colorado or Texas. Holland is working with Homes for Troops, a national organization founded in 2004 to build houses for severely injured veterans of war.
Getting her project off the ground won’t be easy, Holland says, and one of the greatest challenges is simply identifying the other student veterans on campus “With privacy laws, I have no way of obtaining a list of names,” she says.
But Holland believes it is essential that she succeed. When she applied for the Strauss Foundation scholarship, she wrote, “Establishing a student veteran group on campus now will provide support to veterans who are coming home from war, returning to school, and trying to integrate back into society. Through advocacy and volunteer work with local veteran non-profits, it will also ensure that veterans in the greater Los Angeles area are not forgotten about once the mortars stop flying and the media has moved on to the next major news coverage.”
If you are student veteran interesting in joining the group, or if you have any tips for Holland, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted Aug. 31, 2009