CHIEF DESIGN EDITOR
To honor the more than 700 military students on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus, a team of students will hold UNO Veterans Appreciation Week from Monday, Feb. 22 to Saturday, Feb. 27.
The UNO chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is partnering with the Office of Military and Veteran Services (OMVS) to show recognition to campus veterans. “Snaps for Service” will be a week-long give-back campaign consisting of grab bags, free movie tickets and discounts to local pizza shops and coffee houses.
To wrap up the week, the group hopes to organize a shout out to UNO veterans during the Saturday hockey game against North Dakota in Baxter Arena.
“I think it’s important to recognize student veterans because their life experience is so much different from the rest of the college body,” said Emily Speck, one of the UNO PRSSA team members. “Most of us are straight from college but they’ve been through so much in life already.”
PRSSA National chose the Student Veterans of America for its 2016 National Bateman Case Study Competition. The annual competition challenges PRSSA chapters across the nation to research, plan, implement and evaluate a full public relations campaign in teams of four or five.
The goal of this year’s Bateman Competition is to increase awareness on college campuses and in communities about veterans who are students, as well as increase the support and networks for these deserving individuals.
Although UNO ranks consistently as one of the country’s top military friendly schools, the distinction does not mean there is no room for improvement.
Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs B.J. Reed said there is always room to do better.
“We want to make sure every veteran and active duty student has the financial support they need, and the economic knowledge necessary so they do not have to take on more debt than is necessary,” Reed said. “We want to make sure that they
feel a part of the campus in every way possible.”
As Speck and her team discovered through research, many university campuses lack the resources and services an office such as OMVS can provide to military students.
“The big challenge is they often try to deal with academic problems on their own instead of reaching out for help,” Reed said. “By working with faculty and staff advisors, we can provide support if we can identify the challenges early.”
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Dan Shipp said he believes collaborating with other campus organizations could create opportunities for veteran involvement.
“I think it is important to connect existing student programs to the OMVS office,” Shipp said. “In many instances, just including a veteran student in the program planning stage will ensure that they are included and become involved in the program.”
“Snaps for Service” is an effort by UNO PRSSA to do just that. Aside from hosting an appreciation week, the group has discussed the possibility of teaming with OMVS for volunteering opportunities in the future.
Within the next year the OMVS office will relocate from Eppley Administration Building to the newly renovated Milo Bail Student Center.
“I’m excited for this transition as it will provide a more convenient social connection for our veteran students, helping to integrate them more fully in our campus social experience,” Shipp said.