Veterans share experiences – Lunchtime discussion about what it is like to be a veteran student at Bellevue College

Students and veterans talking about their experiences. Alyssa Brown / The Watchdog

On Nov. 9, The Bellevue College Association of Veterans hosted a veteran student lunch next to the Bellevue College cafeteria. The purpose of the event was for veteran students to share stories with each other and with civilian students. BCAV aims to create a social structure and network for veterans and anyone who is interested in learning about veterans.

“There is a little bit of a preconceived notion that combat veterans are broken, that we all have PTSD, when that is certainly not the case, with any population of people that is going to be an issue, but we are pretty normal. Some of us are going to be more thick skinned, but by no means do I think that that should be misconstrued that we are closed minded,” said Bryan Wilson, program coordinator for BCAV.

“Veterans all lead unique lives, and we’re not really too different from anyone else, we have unique stories, but other people do to, and primarily the goal for this event was to share those stories,” Wilson added.

“The social integration is a little bit rough, coming as an older student, a non-traditional student, ultimately it’s rough. Academically it’s a lot easier. I got four years to have defined goals for my academic career,” said Emerson Jones, Marine Corps veteran and Bellevue College student.

Attendees getting food at the lunch. Alyssa Brown / The Watchdog
Attendees getting food at the lunch.
Alyssa Brown / The Watchdog

“One of the more important reasons to have student veterans engaged in the student body is so that we can get over the […] aspect of being a veteran. If a small section of society goes to war, the rest of the population doesn’t know the true cost, the true nature of that,” added Jones.

Being a student veteran at Bellevue College comes with its own challenges and benefits. “The enrollment process for veterans is very similar to any other student at Bellevue College. The requirements for applying to the school, the process for registering for courses and the associated deadlines are the same. There are however some additional benefits available to our veterans.
Typically veterans are offered early registration each quarter, deferments on paying tuition, access to our office for Enrollment, Financial Aid and other services offered at Student Central and many times they may also qualify for a 25 percent reduction of in-state tuition,” said Joshua Kienlen, of the Bellevue College Department of Veteran Affairs.

Bellevue College provides services for veterans through the Center for Career Connections and Project Succeed, led by Chad Hutchins. The office offers career guidance and outside resources specifically catered to veterans that are not available on campus. A veteran study lounge also exists where veteran students can come together to share resources and stories.

Bellevue College has several other programs available for student veterans. “We also work closely with the Disability Resource Center , as many of our veterans require additional support in and out of the classroom. The DRC’s services can be vital to the success of our student-veterans and have provided many of our previous students the help they needed to continue on to other universities after graduation from Bellevue,” Kienlen added.