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VCO Blog

Student Veterans in the Burlington Free Press

Posted: May 13th, 2013 by vco

 

“The cultural transition from the military to academia is a challenge. Some local colleges are trying to help.”

Read more here at the Burlington Free Press

 

Recognition, Support, Celebration: an Interview with Connor Daley

Posted: April 24th, 2013 by vco

Connor

Connor Daley, the current president of UVM’s Student Government Association, is a busy man. Besides being the chief representative for over ten thousand UVM undergraduates, Mr. Daley is one of the many faces of the university in the greater Burlington community. His responsibilities range from overseeing the allocation of an estimated $1.3 million (all of which comes from student fees) to sitting in on over eighteen university-wide committees. Let us not forget that Mr. Daley is also a junior, and along with all of his presidential duties, he has to complete his homework like any other student at UVM.

I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Daley, and hear about the SGA’s involvement in veterans’ issues on campus. Since his time is so valuable, I would like to heartily thank Mr. Daley for making time to speak about the UVM Student Veterans Organization.

SVO: What role do you think the SGA should play in regards to veterans’ affairs on campus?

Daley: In the past, we (the SGA) have worked closely with the VCO [now SVO] and former presidents Shanna Shushereba and Ryan Little, and now we are happy to work with Randi Diabo and D.J. Westley (the President and Vice President, respectively, of the rebranded SVO). We have and continue to advocate for an Office of Veterans Affairs and a dedicated Veterans Coordinator on campus, and since 2011 we have sponsored the UVM Veterans’ Day celebration.

Conversations are important, so we must continue the ongoing conversation in regards to student veterans on campus. The establishment of a Veterans Coordinator would provide support and good public relations on the issue. So far, that office has been difficult to achieve (financially speaking). In the meantime, SGA will continue to provide support and public relations for UVM’s student veterans.

SVO: What do you think the university’s obligations are for its student veterans? How do you think it is doing in regards to issues involving veterans?

Daley: Overall, the school is doing very poorly. There hasn’t been much institutional support for veterans on campus. I disagree with President Sullivan’s decentralized system model [in response to the PCDI recommendation].* That is the biggest problem at UVM: we are too decentralized, which creates progress problems. ** We are starting to go in the right direction, but we are below where we need to be. UVM institutionally needs to recognize, support, and celebrate its student veterans. We should recognize that student veterans have different experiences and different perspectives. Veterans have needs that are different from the traditional undergraduate student. They don’t need to go to the big concert every year; they need academic and logistical support. Celebration is natural, but we also need to celebrate and talk to veterans about their lives, issues, and experiences in a professional and academic manner.

SVO: Are there any last comments that you would like to make?

Daley: I have been amazed by how many student veterans are actively involved on campus. They can easily choose not to be, but many of them do it anyway. I am happy to continue advocating for them.

 

 

*The Presidential Commission on Diversity and Inclusion (PCDI) recommended the creation of a Veterans Affairs Office.

**President Sullivan’s October 2012 response was:

The University greatly values the contributions of our University community members who are veterans. Vice President Chris Lucier has created a website that provides a range of services and information specific to veterans. Additionally, staff in various offices have been indentified as points-of-contact for veterans. We believe that the current model of central coordination with decentralized services is meeting the needs of our veterans, but we commit to continuing to assess resources for veterans on campus.

 

Article by Benjamin Welton 

Interview with Annie Cressey, MEd

Posted: April 17th, 2013 by vco

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 2.30.35 PM

On a dreary day in the late autumn grayness of Vermont, I sat down with Anne Cressey, a
health educator and outreach expert for UVM’s Center for Health and Wellbeing (CHWB). The
CHWB, with its many branches and specializations, is UVM’s primary prevention-oriented
resource for all health-related issues, ranging from simple nutrition to medical care. Annie is also
the primary advisor for Active Minds, a student-run organization dedicated to educating adults of
all ages on mental health and associated issues. According to Annie, “Active Minds is dedicated
to reducing the stigma on mental health,” and as part of this broad goal, Annie believes that as a
community and as a nation, we need to breakdown the stereotypes that swirl around veterans and
complex mental health issues such as Posttraumatic stress disorder.

In order to begin the dissolution of these harmful stereotypes and stigmas, Annie highlights
the importance of knowing that there are resources available for all members of the UVM
community, including veterans. During our brief interview, Annie emphasized that, all
“questions are valid,” so anyone seeking counseling or just a listening ear should feel no doubt or
anxiety about reaching out to the CHWB.

For veterans, the fear of being labeled “crazy” for seeking help through counseling or therapy
sessions can be unbearably acute. For this reason, Annie Cressey believes that UVM (as well as
other institutions) should offer a class about the status of returning veterans. This class could be
made available to veterans and the general public. Along with suicide awareness training, this
class would go far in helping to clarify to the general public some of the obstacles that returning
veterans face on college campuses and in the workplace.

Annie applauds a consistent approach to care which can often be as simple as picking up the
phone. “You don’t have to be in a downright crisis,” but “don’t underestimate the power of
experience, either.” For many of us, counseling seems like a last resort coming well after just
toughing it out or finding ways for intellectual distraction or physical release through exercise.
Annie Cressey, Active Minds, and CHWB all agree that this last resort thinking diminishes the
effectiveness of counseling.

Since “symptoms arise in multiple ways,” the best type of care would provide those seeking
relief “with multiple options.” This, for Annie, means that a diverse approach to mental and
physical issues should be adopted and implemented, and, as a member of the UVM health
services community, Annie Cressey is working hard to make that a reality. Her idea of
“wraparound care” begins with the development of good coping mechanisms; for, “maintenance
is a job in itself.” Truer words have never been spoken.

If you would like help or your questions answered in regards to issues of health, visit uvm.edu/
health, or call Health Education and Outreach at The Davis Center at 802-656-0441. Information
regarding Active Minds can be located at uvm.edu/~actvmind.

Article written by Benjamin Welton

Veteran’s Day Reception

Posted: April 10th, 2013 by vco

Student Government Association and Veteran’s Collaboration Association are proud to host a Veteran’s Day Reception honoring veterans in the University of Vermont and Burlington community.

Waterman Memorial Lounge
Monday, November 5
3:30 PM

New Meeting Time and Place

Posted: September 7th, 2012 by vco

The first VCO Meeting (all members) will take place Wednesday, September 19th at the same time & place. More specific details of what we will be covering/how to prepare will be sent as our meeting day gets closer.

If you have schedule conflicts and cannot attend, no need to worry, because Wednesdays is NOT the only time’s we will be getting together!!!! At this time, please email any specific questions/comments/discrepancies to rplittle@live.com

VCO Weekly Meeting

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 by vco

Our meetings are weekly, unless otherwise announced.

Held every Monday at 6pm (1800),
Room 301, Aiken Building,
(Rock of Ages Room)

All are welcome.

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