The veterans’ lounge in Huntress provides veterans with a quiet area to relax, do work and meet other veterans on campus. It’s a room that is dedicated specifically to veterans. Associate Dean and Director of Residential Life Kent Drake-Deese said Keene State College currently has around 40 veterans enrolled and taking classes, so it’s a small community. KSC is working to improve the involvement of veterans on campus, and also make the campus more veteran friendly.
The lounge opened on September 24 of this year, and Drake-Deese said it has been used by many of the veterans on campus. Drake-Deese said the goal of the veteran lounge was to make veterans feel like they have a quiet place to interact with one another, and also meet new people. “We want to provide our veterans with more support services and make the campus more veteran friendly. We really hope they feel like they’re welcomed and supported on this campus,” Drake-Deese said.
The veterans lounge is a room in Huntress that is dedicated specifically to veterans. The door has a locked code on it and only veterans have the correct code to be able to get into the room. The lounge is set up with only soft seating and tables, but Drake-Deese said he is looking into adding a microwave, a coffee maker and maybe even a TV.
Most veterans on campus are commuters and aren’t the traditional age of most college students. Drake-Deese said the age range of veterans at KSC is 18 years old to 75 years old, so for many, the Student Center was not the most ideal space to be spending free time, given the demographic. “Once the space became available in Huntress, we took the opportunity to set up the lounge to give our veterans a quiet space to relax and do work. The student center isn’t always the most welcoming place for older veterans that also commute, so our hope with the lounge is that they feel more comfortable in their own space,” Drake-Deese said.
Veterans Administration representative Counselor Thea Schlieben said becoming more veteran friendly is something more colleges are starting to do. “It’s really important for colleges to be doing stuff like this, because it really lets veterans know that their college recognizes their time in the service and their dedication to this country,” Schlieben said.
Veteran and senior Joshua Aldrich said, so far, the movement to make KSC more veteran friendly is heading in the right direction. “I’d say the college is doing a pretty good job making the campus more veteran friendly. The lounge is definitely a good start to making veterans more comfortable. I feel like the veteran population will increase at KSC if res life keeps working towards making us feel more welcome and comfortable,” Aldrich said.
Schlieben specializes in suicide prevention for veterans and said she understands the importance of having resources available for veterans who need it. “Suicide is something veterans definitely struggle with. I’ve left different resources in the lounge for those who need it. It’s a simple action but you never know when someone really needs something like that,” Schlieben said.
“It’s a place where we’re able to share stories, tell jokes, relax and do homework. It is a work in progress but we really appreciate it,” Aldrich said.
Emily Carstensen can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org