From serving to students: highlight of veterans students and ROTC

Leah Kahn , Lara Rivera, and Riley LeCocq

Carson Brosnan comes from a lineage of Beavers. He was excited to walk through the same halls as a lot of his family did when they studied at Oregon State University.

Even with a busy schedule as a Marine Corps Reserve Officers’ Training Corps student and a business student at OSU, Brosnan has been able to form bonds that will last a lifetime.

His zealous drive to join the ROTC is fueled to “first and foremost” serve his country. There are about 2,300 veterans at OSU who are on Brosnan’s path, not counting students who are on their relatives’ Galvanized IronI bill. 

“Based on my experiences and the experiences of veterans I know I can say we have all felt very supported by OSU,” Brosnan said. 

The Veterans and Military Certifying Team made up of OSU School Certifying Officials, two out of three who are veterans themselves, are the link between the student and their veteran administration education benefits. 

As opposed to other universities, OSU does not require students to submit a form to have their enrollment certified each term, or to report a change in their enrollment. 

Instead, once a student submits their VA education benefit verification via their online intake form they set up the student’s information to automatically certify their enrollment each term they are registered for classes. 

The Veterans and Military Certifying Team recognized via email that VA education benefits are complex and often-times confusing. To help address this, they are soon implementing a new certification system to improve communication between the student, the VA and the school.  

“We’re constantly looking at ways to improve and make things easier so that veterans can focus more on school and less on managing their benefits,” stated the Veterans and Military Certifying Team in an email. 

Ray Sullivan, Peer Advisory Veteran Education and a current student at OSU, said the first stop for veterans and their relatives is the Military Veteran Resource Center at Snell Hall. All veterans, family members of veterans and those who wish to get closer to the veteran community are welcome.

The MVRC offers printing, quiet areas, a small kitchenette and a team who work at the office to resolve veterans’ affairs questions.

One of the benefits of the MVRC is the ability to make connections with veterans, and attend presentations hosted by veterans to talk about topics such as benefits and financial management.

The MVRC has a partnership with other resource centers such as the basic needs center to help people afford groceries for the month and direct lines to the housing departments of OSU. 

One way Sullivan credits the reason veterans come to OSU is the yellow ribbon program, meaning the university matches the cost of tuition for out of state above what the VA will pay so that students do not have to worry about paying extra for tuition. 

After six and a half years in the military where Sullivan was a yeoman and five years doing sexual assault prevention and response, Sullivan decided he wanted to return to school to finish his degree in sociology and continue his career as a social worker.

“We are part of the OSU connected community to ensure that people have a continual care when they either get out of the military, coming to school or just have the option to know where to go next,” Sullivan said.

OSU has the Associated Students of Oregon State University Veterans and Nontraditional Students Advocacy Coordinator Angelina Trillo, who gets the concerns of veterans and nontraditional students and communicates them with the student government “to make sure they are advocated for,” said Sullivan.

Additionally, OSU has a Student Veteran Association made up of a small band of students that gather to hold events at school and the local community where they do activities such as writing hundreds of letters and deliver them to the veterans’ home in Lebanon, Ore. for Veterans Day. 

“I feel like there is definitely a lot of misidentification of what veterans are,” Sullivan said. “We just want to show them we are students, too.” 

The SVA and MVRC are putting on a Veteran’s week on the week of Veteran’s day hosting events to tell their story. They will be doing the Veterans Day letter campaign all week from Nov. 7 to Nov. 11. 

“OSU is a wonderful campus, and is very welcoming to all community members,” Sullivan said. “We want to make sure any veteran that wants to further their education feels comfortable here.”