Good idea will help veterans succeed

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A new project at Texas Woman’s University is a great example of what can be accomplished by individuals who refuse to give up on a good idea.

Earlier this year, a group of TWU students helped apply for a grant to create a veterans center on campus. They also made a video for the project.

But their plan hit a roadblock when the grant application was turned down.

Luckily, Amy O’Keefe, director of commuter and nontraditional student services at TWU, saw the setback as an opportunity for a teachable moment.

The campus veterans center, O’Keefe told us, had been in her strategic plan for years, and she told the students not to be disappointed — the number of grants available had been limited, after all. She also promised them their efforts wouldn’t be wasted.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and thanks to a generous donation from a local business, the students will now be able to see the project through to completion.

Seeds of the donation got planted by chance when a university staff member had her car repaired at 5W Collision Repair. During a conversation with shop owner Jason Weir, he explained that he and his wife donate a portion of their company’s monthly profits to worthwhile community organizations, and she told him about the veterans center project.

As a result, 5W Collision Repair has donated $7,000 to make the project a reality. Weir and his wife decided to completely fund the TWU project and donate another $3,000 to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Since O’Keefe already had the plans and cost estimates from the grant application, it was easy to coordinate.

The new veterans center will be located in offices in Jones Hall on the TWU campus and it will provide study and meeting space for veterans, complete with furnishings and accessories such as a coffee maker.

The project will begin taking shape in the coming weeks and should open for the fall semester on Sept. 3, O’Keefe said.

The center will serve an important purpose because the two biggest obstacles veterans face when entering college are the military-to-student transition and dealing with feelings of isolation.

“For women, we’re finding especially that their peers don’t necessarily understand the military experience, so to have a space that is just theirs is really important,” O’Keefe said. “We’re super excited we’re going to be able to make that happen now.”

When the veterans center is completed, she said, there will be a more intimate study space and a comfortable, nonthreatening place to have meetings or tutoring sessions. Such considerations can go a long way toward helping veterans succeed at the university.

We commend those involved in this project.


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