University signs covenant to provide resources to veterans

Courtesy Photo /
Assistant Dean of Students Steven Lipnicki and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Reserve Jack Stultz.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Assistant Dean of Students Steven Lipnicki and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Reserve Jack Stultz.

Sarah Hillenbrand

With more than 500 student veterans currently attending Grand Valley State University, the school proclaimed its dedication to the U.S. military and service members by participating in the Community Covenant program for the Mary Walker Army Strong Community Center, which opened on March 3.

“The Army Strong Community Centers are meant to provide resources and services for veterans from any branch of the military and their family members,” said Steven Lipnicki, assistant dean of students.

The center, which was the fifth to open in the U.S. and the first to open in the Midwest, was opened for veterans who would otherwise have to travel to Ohio to receive the resources they need. Western Michigan was chosen because of the amount of support the community showed in helping returning veterans, Lipnicki said.

GVSU is committed to veterans,” said Tim Eernisse, who works with WGVU Engage. “We will continue to offer resources to the one percent of the population who are veterans.”

Resources that the center offers include benefits and entitlements, TRICARE medical and dental information, VA benefits, web access, employment and resume assistance, emergency assistance and community resources.

GVSU was the only West Michigan university to sign the Community Covenant.

“Signing the covenant signifies our commitment to support military veteran students and their families through what we offer on campus,” Lipnicki said.

The university’s involvement with the center shows how the university is interested in issues in the community, Eernisse said.

GVSU hears about things going on in the community and listens to needs to engage and connect with the community,” he said. “Signing the Community Covenant program is to show that we are willing to support the Army Strong Center and are an active member of the community and will support it.”

Apart from the new center, veterans clubs on campus also offer additional resources for student veterans.

“We help students go through processes like applying for disability,” said Justin Lewis, president of the Student Veterans Club. “Sometimes we’ll just get together and reminisce on the old times and our experiences.”

The Student Veterans Organization on campus has also raised money to help the West Michigan Veterans Assistance Program, a Grand Rapids organization that provides assistance to homeless veterans.

“We try to enhance the veteran-friendly environment at Grand Valley,” Lewis said. “We help student veterans that come to Grand Valley transition from the military lifestyle to an educational lifestyle.”

Lipnicki said GVSU is not considering adding an ROTC program at this point in time. The concentration right now is assisting students and veterans who are coming to GVSU.

ROTC focuses on recruiting into the military, while we focus on helping students transition out,” he said.

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