'At Ease' Military and Veteran Resource Center Opens
On Monday, Aug. 21, U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson and Bill Ayres, dean and chief administrative officer of Kent State University at Trumbull, cut the ribbon for At Ease, the first military and veteran resource center on the campus. Joining them were the Honor Guard from AMVETs Post 45, campus Advisory Board members, representatives from the Daughters of the American Revolution and local veteran service officers, as well as Kent State Trumbull officials.
At Ease, located in the Gelbke Library, offers military and veteran students a place to access information on the G.I. Bill®, campus mental health counseling, community relations, financial aid and other resources available on campus.
The vision for the resource center came from faculty and staff members Lori Singer-Bare (lecturer, Criminology and Justice Studies; instructor, Peace Officer Training Academy; and program coordinator for the College of Applied and Technical Studies Criminology and Justice Studies A.A.S.), Maribeth Eckenrode (Regional Campus Financial Aid Representative), Barb Ozimek (counseling sme pecialist and adjunct faculty); and Karen Ronga (Gelbke Library Director). Singer-Bare served over 13 years in the United States Army as a military police officer, drill sergeant, platoon sergeant and operations sergeant. Eckenrode is a military spouse. Ozimek served the veteran community with mental health services and has numerous family members who served in the Armed Forces.
"At Ease provides our learners a space to relax, receive information about school and community resources, enjoy coffee, socialize, and conduct schoolwork," Singer-Bare said. "We are so grateful to our military and veteran students, staff and faculty. This is another way we can thank and honor those who are serving or have served this great nation."
The need for such a center has been a conversation on campus for years. Singer-Bare shared startling statistics on military members leaving the service. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), approximately 200,000 service members transition out of the military annually. A Pew research study found that 27% of veterans report difficulties in reentry, increasing to 44% among those who served during the 10 years after September 11.
"From my experience, the transition period can be troublesome," she said. "Many veterans have returned home after their service and are apprehensive about being non-traditional learners. We want them to feel welcome and know that there are faculty and staff here that speak their language and can relate to their experiences."
Over 75 people attended the opening, including all of the cadets from Kent State's newest Police Academy class.
Mialie Szymanski, administrative assistant to the Dean and Public Relations and Media Chair for the Ohio State Society, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, and Martha C. Yoder, Regent from the Mary Chesney Chapter, NSDAR, presented each Vietnam era veteran attending the event, including Johnson, with a lapel pin embossed with the phrase "A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You" on the reverse side.
For more information, visit www.kent.edu/trumbull/atease.
Pictured above: Lori Singer-Bare, Barb Ozimek, Maribeth Eckenrode, Dean Bill Ayres, and U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson.