March will honor military service this Friday

Veteran affairs office offers counseling, place for students to hang, says SVC president



ASWSU Student Veterans Committee President Chris Mann speaks about the necessity of helping veterans transition to the college lifestyle Tuesday afternoon in the CUB.

SYDNEY BROWN, Evergreen reporter

The ASWSU Student Veterans Committee president says he will incorporate more businesses and local veterans into this year’s Veterans Day Ceremony, which will be Friday morning on the Glenn Terrell Friendship Mall.

WSU SVC President Chris Mann said for the first time the ceremony starts with a community breakfast, during which locals, students and veterans can mingle in an informal setting. 

Mann, who served eight years in the Marine Corps, said the Veterans Day ceremony will then proceed with a march from the Terrell Mall to the memorial on Veterans Way. Guest speakers Jess Downs, former United States Marine Corps officer and member of Pullman Rotary, Jill Creighton, dean of students and associate vice president for campus life and Scott Carson, former Air Force and Board of Regents member, will talk to the crowd, and Mann said this will finish the event. 

“I don’t mean to throw them under the bus, but last year’s committee didn’t really do anything […] that can bring people together,” Mann said. “So that’s been my big thing.” 

English instructor Elijah Coleman, who served four years in the Marines in the mid-90s, wrote in an email that this Veterans Day holds special importance for Marines because of the branch’s birthday on Nov. 10. 

Many veterans, especially older students, find it hard to transition into the lifestyle of a college student, Mann said. Feelings of isolation often make academic success even harder, so student veterans often end up on academic probation. 

Mike Edwards, associate professor of English, said he plans on attending the event because of his own experience as an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point following peacetime military service from 1992-96. He also said that veterans sometimes feel stigmatized, which sometimes strains their mental health. 

“I hope that the students at WSU and the WSU community will recognize that […] veterans are Cougs,” Edwards said, “and that we are not strange, alien beasts who are all right-wing bigoted baby killers, which is the stereotype, right?”

Mann said he delegated for more community outreach this year. His time working at the WSU Office of Veteran Affairs showed him that a less formal approach will help ease student veterans’ anxiety of meeting new people. 

His job at the veteran office also made him see a problem in the processing of student veterans’ tuition. The GI Bill, which was originally the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, offers government-funded education for people who have served. 

However, because the funding comes through the slow-moving Veterans Administration, Mann said, students often have to wait six to eight weeks to see reimbursements for loans they had to take out before the tuition was processed. This means that students who rely on federal money for rent and food have to wait, Mann said. 

Mann said he hopes to work more with WSU administration on offering what he said was a “guaranteed” tuition offer for student veterans. This would automatically process and give students loans, grants and scholarships that would otherwise be on hold, he said. WSU President Kirk Schulz was on board with the idea when Mann spoke with him, Mann said. 

The WSU Office of Veterans Affairs is located in Holland Library, Room 120BA. Mann said the space is open to all students for studying or just relaxation. 

The Veterans Day ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. Friday in the CUB Junior Ballroom, where complimentary breakfast will be available.