One out of every 20 students enrolled at Weber State is a veteran, and the school provides services dedicated to help these students succeed.
Veterans make up an estimated 1,500 students at WSU among a student body of close to 27,000 according to Charlie Chandler, coordinator for Veterans Services at Weber State.
Veterans Affairs, newly relocated to 4100 S. St. across from Wildcat Village, is one such service, helping veterans succeed in school and providing information to assist them in college and beyond.
“If they have any special needs, we refer them to resources,” said Chandler, whether those needs are psychological or academic.
Though Veterans Affairs offers some psychological counseling, they often refer students to the counseling and psychological services available in the Student Services center.
Veterans Affairs also offers a space where veterans can relax and deal with stress that comes with school.
“Just being in the new civilian environment can be difficult for them,” Chandler said. “Sometimes they come over here to get away from pressures at school so they can kinda decompress here.”
The primary responsibility of Veterans Affairs, according to Chandler, is to help veterans obtain educational benefits they earned while serving in the armed forces.
In most cases, said Chandler, veterans that have served their full commitment receive 36 months of tuition and fees paid for along with a small stipend for books and course materials, plus a monthly housing allowance.
The law regarding these benefits changed recently in Utah. Previously, veterans would have to apply to school in Utah less than a year after they were discharged and show intent to be a resident of Utah to get in-state tuition rates.
Now, “regardless of how long they have been out of the service, if they show intent to be a resident of Utah, they’re eligible for in-state tuition rates,” Chandler said.
This change, recently put in place by the Utah Legislature, applies to all state-financed schools.
Another service available at Weber State is Veterans Upward Bound, a tutoring service and testing center for math, English and computer literacy dedicated to veterans.
The focus of Veterans Upward Bound is to get veterans ready for college, providing services that allow them to brush up on necessary skills according to Randy Wilson, director of Veterans Upward Bound.
“About anything a student needs to do, if they’re a veteran and trying to go to school, we try to help them with it,” Wilson said.
Veterans Upward Bound is on the north side of campus on Edvalson Street next to the LDS Institute of Religion.
Veterans Upward Bound fills a unique need for veterans coming home from active duty according to Wilson.
“Many veterans chose to go to the military before school, and so they had a reason they didn’t want to go to school right away,” Wilson said. “When they came back they had to prepare themselves either for careers or to change their lives around.”
Veterans Upward Bound helps these veterans do just that.
Weber State University Student Association also has a senator representing veterans on campus.
Kyle Poppitz, a veteran and work-study student at Veterans Affairs, fills this role, keeping in touch with his constituency in representing their needs in the student senate.
Poppitz, who served for nine years in the armed forces, is working hard to ensure the unique challenges veterans face are addressed by the university.
“We’ve given a lot of our time and lives and we’ve lost friends, family, everything,” Poppitz said. “Coming to school you shouldn’t lose anything else.”