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Org started for military vets

February 21, 2008

In the upcoming weeks, a new organization for all the military veterans on campus, both student and faculty, will be getting off the ground.

The UW-River Falls Veterans Club is primarily for veterans to socialize with each other, receive benefit information and keep up with legislation.

“[The club] has been an idea that has been bounced around in some of the groups for quite a while now,” club president Dave Till said. “Last semester we finished all the paperwork as far as getting it going.”

The club is mainly for veterans, but is open to anybody.

“We want to get the campus involved and let them know what veterans have done,” co-founder Ben Dreher said.

This will not be the first veterans club at UWRF.

“There was one during Vietnam, but that had a lot bigger issues to deal with as far as negative publicity,” Till said. “There have been other ones in the past that didn’t get fully off the ground.”

According to the UWRF Web site, there was also a veterans club from 1947 to 1950.

“There were very active vets social networks following World War II that actually led to major changes in academic offerings,” Director of Public Affairs Mark Kinders, who is also the club’s faculty advisor, said in an e-mail interview. “Those returning with the GI Bill wanted more than the limited choice of a teaching degree.”

“As a Marine Corps veteran with a son currently deployed in Iraq in the Marines, I was delighted to help out when I was asked to be the club adviser,” Kinders said.

The club has no members currently, since they have not had a meetin, but there are over 200 veterans on campus.

Till said that people know about the club and that he expects there to be over 50 people at the first meeting.

“Some future projects we have been talking about are having a spot where veterans can go to hang out and maybe there would be coffee and snacks,” Till said. “A little corner, or nook, or something like that.”

Something simple as that could be beneficial.

“You feel out of place coming back [from Iraq],” Dreher said. “[the club] gives you a sense of family or community, and helps you feel more at ease.”

The club is ambitious, and will be doing more in the future than holding meetings.

“We would like to roll it out to have a say and get involved in some of the legislation that’s being put out at the state and federal level,” Till said.

The club’s meeting will be held at 5:00 p.m. on Feb. 25 in the University Center’s Wind Room.