BOZEMAN – An open house to celebrate the second anniversary of the Veterans Support Center at Montana State University will be held Monday, Sept. 23, in room 185 of the Strand Union Building.
The public is invited to attend the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. event which will include remarks by MSU President Waded Cruzado and the unveiling of donated quilts and photographs for a newly designated “veterans wall,” said Brenda York, director of veterans services. Among those expected to attend are representatives from the offices of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and U.S. Rep. Steve Daines. Refreshments will be provided.
The photos and quilts will hang on the veterans wall, which is the south wall of the Veterans Support Center, York said. The photos were taken by the late Wade Christiansen of Red Lodge, an MSU photography student who served in Afghanistan as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. The quilts were made by Keri Foreman, wife of a disabled veteran who attends MSU. She said the quilt titled “Over Mountains and Minds They Watch Over Us,” was her gift to York and Cruzado for all they have done to help her husband succeed at MSU.
“Both women became what we called our guardian angels in red, white and blue,” Foreman said.
The second quilt is titled “On the Threshold of Liberty.”
“Every soldier needs a soft spot to land on. Every. Single. One,” Foreman commented. “… We can’t hand-hold every single one of these folks, but we can include them in our lives. We need to help them find their courage in this civilian life.”
MSU has approximately 580 students whose education is funded by the GI Bill. York said the number increases every semester, and she expects it to exceed 600 next year. Of the current students funded by the GI Bill, about 85 percent are veterans or guard members. The rest are their spouses or dependents.
The Veterans Support Center opened in 2011 to better serve those students, York said. Since then, MSU has twice been designated a Military Friendly School by Victory Media. The latest announcement came Sept. 17, saying that MSU ranks in the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military service members, veterans and spouses and students and ensure their success on campus.
The Veterans Support Center gives veterans a place to gather and provides services to help them adjust to MSU. Some of their greatest needs are making the transition from military life to civilian life, setting career goals and finding jobs after they graduate, York said. Support for their families is also crucial.
Current services and plans at the Veterans Support Center include a support group for veterans, a support group for military families, math and English tutors, career services, a spring event tied to MSU’s Year of Engaged Leadership, and a fall weekend dedicated to military appreciation, York said. Students who serve in the military and their families will be honored Nov. 15 and 16, particularly at the Nov. 16 home football game against Southern Utah.
MSU will be able to expand those services because of funding made available by the Montana Legislature in 2013, York said. The legislature gave $1 million to the Montana University System to expand veterans services across the state.
MSU has also signed up to join the nation in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, York said. Events can be held any time through Nov. 11, 2025.
For more information about the Veterans Support Center and available services, go to http://www.montana.edu/veteran
Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or firstname.lastname@example.org