This month at the annual Veterans Day ceremony celebrating veterans who attended the University of Dallas, trustee Terry O’Halloran announced that UD is launching a fundraising campaign to create a Veterans Lounge.
The lounge will be created by enclosing an existing hallway area on the third floor of SB hall, according to Patrice Wager, the director of Instructional Design and Educational Technology and a member of the Veterans Council.
The Veterans Council is composed of staff and faculty, and the majority of council members are also veterans. The Veterans Council is spearheading this project along with Dr. Brett Landry, dean of the College of Business, who allocated the space for this purpose, according to Wager. The Office of Advancement is leading the fundraising effort.
Renovations may include work stations and comfortable furniture such as couches and chairs, and possibly a refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and tv, according to Wager. The amenities offered will depend on the funds raised.
$6000 is necessary to enclose the space and the initial fundraising goal is $10,000, according to Wager.
Wager added that, “People or groups donating a minimum of $200 will be able to have their name engraved on the UD Veteran Supporter Plaque to be displayed in the Veterans Lounge.” Currently, the campaign has reached 30 percent of its fundraising goal.
“With help from the UD community, we hope to meet our goal by spring,” Wager said.
In his weekly Tuesday Topics email sent on Nov. 13, Interim President Dr. John Plotts described the purpose of the lounge.
“[The lounge] will be a place where veterans can come together with those who have shared common experiences to relax, discuss common issues, and speak openly about challenges,” Plotts wrote.
The space will be reserved for student veterans, according to Wager.
There are currently seven undergraduate and 50 graduate veteran students enrolled at UD, according to Assistant Registrar Sandra Morgan. Of these, 38 are enrolled in the College of Business.
Wager said that currently there isn’t much awareness of veteran students at UD.
“I know there are other veterans … that could benefit from support and knowing about each other,” Wager added.
“It has been a long time in coming, and is needed, but until now, we did not have a space carved out for it,” Morgan said. “I am so glad it will come to fruition in the next months.”
The Veteran’s Lounge will feature a plaque honoring Pedro Vasquez, who served in the Marine Corps for 20 years. Vasquez worked in the healthcare industry after his military career as the director of Medicaid Programs for a healthcare management company, before leaving to pursue his education.
Vasquez just completed his MBA this fall and has decided to pursue a second masters in leadership.
“The Veteran’s Lounge will be a great asset for the school and providing veterans an area where they can meet other veterans in the school,” Vasquez wrote in an email. “In the military, camaraderie plays a huge role in the success of mission accomplishment and it is something that veterans still look for after they have departed.”
Vaquez pointed out that UD is in need of a place where people interested in the military can come and talk to those who have served.
“The Veterans Lounge project is the beginning of a more active student veteran group which can bring together veterans and also educate and inform other students that may have questions about serving in the military or military life in general,” Vasquez added.
“The Veterans Lounge is our opportunity to provide a space for veterans to find camaraderie, decompress and find support,” Wager said in an email. “Veterans, by nature, are non-traditional students. Vets speak a different language. Vets seek a sense of belonging. The Vet Lounge can help provide a safe space for vets to connect with their fellow vets, learn how to transition from full-time military to civilian life, understand how to transition thought, language and purpose to better become part of our UD community and community at large.”