Student veterans make connections and have access to resources with help from VETS
Humboldt State University has about 500 veteran-affiliated students, according to HSU Veterans Enrollment and Transition Services.
James Lamping, the outreach coordinator at the VETS office and a veteran himself, works to connect veterans by giving them a place to talk, seek therapy and find friends.
“Every vet comes from a different background, and it’s an interesting community,” Lamping said. “Even though there is a lot of diversity between us, we all share a culture tying us together.”
Nov. 11 is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended World War I. The day honors former and current military service people and is observed as a federal holiday, Veterans Day. HSU students and faculty have the day off.
One way the veterans at HSU connect is through the Outdoor Sports Program facilitated by the VETS office. Year-round, a group of veterans partake in several outdoor sports activities like hiking, kayaking and snowboarding.
John Biggs, a student veteran majoring in marine biology, went on one of the outdoor trips when he moved to Humboldt State in the spring of 2015. He was able to familiarize himself with other students and build relationships.
“We did a big hiking trip up in the Trinities, a rafting trip,” Biggs said. “All the people I met on that trip were my core group of friends when I started here.”
Biggs said that having friends and familiar faces in his classes helps him focus on learning. It had been six years since the last time he took an algebra class.
“I feel like I’m more successful taking classes when I know somebody and have someone to talk to and study with than just myself,” Biggs said. “I’m not someone who asks questions. That’s just my personality.”
Lamping said veterans are one of the more successful populations on campus, partly due to the structured lifestyle that is familiar to military life. Having something to do every day provides a daily purpose.
“Having the structure is nice,” Biggs said. “To have something to do rather than figuring it out on your own.”
The VETS office provides help and academic services for veterans. VETS connected Biggs with the Student Disability Resource Center to help him in the Learning Center.
“I’m not a big test taker, so that was fun,” Biggs said. “That was really helpful.”
Kim Hall, veterans program administrator for HSU, was one of the people who helped Biggs get back into the flow of school. Hall started the outdoors program and also started the North Coast Veterans Stand Down, a three-day event that provides food for homeless veterans at the county fairgrounds in Ferndale.
In celebration, HSU VETS is hosting a dinner event this Friday, Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m in the Green and Gold Room on HSU’s campus. The Veterans Day Celebration is free for veterans and their families.