A college’s buddy system

Organization helps vets

By J.M. Simpson on November 21, 2018

The Student Veterans Organization -- or SVO -- at Pierce College, provides veterans with a range of support programs to help them realize their educational goals.

The SVO is a part of the college's larger Veterans Resource Center (VRC). The center has revamped over the past seven to eight months in order to better serve the college's student veteran community.  

Over 1,600 students on the Fort Steilacoom and Puyallup campuses utilize their GI benefits, and another 1,000 active-duty attend the college's Joint Base Lewis-McChord campus.

As a result, the SVO has grown in importance.

While the center works to direct veterans to the resources like advising and counseling, computers for study use, the textbook lending library, Department of Veterans Affairs liaisons, and links to campus and community services, the SVO focuses on the educational environment veterans find themselves in.

"We understand that a college environment can be quite difficult to navigate after being used to the way things work in the military," said Chris Galbreath, an Army veteran and Pierce student. "We more or less operate like the battle buddy system; we come alongside those who need or want help and walk with them as they navigate the college scene."

The SVO was granted recognition as an official student club in the spring of 2018 by the Pierce College student government. The results of that action look good.

"Many of the non-veteran students look up to veterans as role models, but we often find that we are becoming leaders for good in the classroom," continued Galbreath.

Currently, the organization is pursuing national recognition from the Student Veterans of America, which can lead to additional resources for student veterans.

Galbreath concluded by emphasizing that the SVO works closely with the VRC.

"Our priority is focused on feedback from veterans, students, faculty and staff about where we are and where we want to be in providing this type of service," he said. "We are constantly looking for new ways to help our veterans succeed; I am always down to chat with anyone, especially fellow vets."

For more information about the VRC or SVO, send Galbreath an email at cgalbreath@pierce.ctc.edu.