Supporting student veterans

GVL / Sara Carte
Grand Valley student, Kate Berg, studies in the Veteran Lounge in the Kirkhof building on Sept. 15.

Sara Carte

GVL / Sara Carte Grand Valley student, Kate Berg, studies in the Veteran Lounge in the Kirkhof building on Sept. 15.

Ashlyn Korienek

To create a more inclusive space, Grand Valley State University’s Student Veterans of America chapter (SVA) is working to relocate and improve the conditions of the veterans’ lounge on the Allendale Campus.

Bryan Wood, vice president of communications for the SVA, said the SVA and the GVSU administration are in the process of deciding whether the lounge will be relocated or renovated. In addition, Wood said they were recently awarded $7,000 in grants from Home Depot for materials.

The veterans’ lounge is currently located on the second floor of the Kirkhof Center directly above the pool tables and movie theatre area. Wood said the noise is the largest issue, which is why many veterans choose not to use the current space.

“The SVA lobbied years ago and managed to get an actual space for veterans to congregate and study,” Wood said. “We weren’t looking for anything special, but the biggest reason why we need another space is the noise level while attempting to study or relax is not ideal. It can be extremely distracting to many of the veterans who wish to come here.”

Wood said renovation is not ideal because they cannot block the fire exit or break building code violations. Another possibility being considered is relocating the lounge to the old student senate meeting area in the lower level of Kirkhof.

“What we are looking to do is create a larger footprint for students and veterans to know that we are here on campus and to inform them on the resources or connections we can offer them,” Wood said.

Marq Hicks, the GVSU veteran resource representative for the Michigan Veteran Education Initiative, a grant-funded program from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, said several institutions in Michigan do not have spaces for veterans on campus to congregate, which puts GVSU a step ahead. However, he said the design of the space is not accomplishing what was intended.

“The fact that we have a space here at GVSU for veterans is great, because many institutions do not,” Hicks said. “I think Grand Valley realizes that we need spaces for veterans, along with someone who can work with them and understand their needs – someone they can relate to.”

While working successfully with the administration on plans, Hicks said the process is only a matter of time, finding the space and location.

“Grand Valley has been tremendously helpful in trying to make this idea become a reality, but it’s currently a matter of time and location,” he said. “We have already had conversations on where it would be best located.”

Wood said the SVA is working on several events for the year, which include game nights on Mondays, flag football games and a “TED Talk” event for Veterans Day on Nov. 11. He said the “TED Talk” would target those who would like to speak out about their military experience, which is not limited to students.

For more information on the Veterans Network or the Students Veterans of America at GVSU visit,