New initiatives for female vets
Jill Doubek, a six-year veteran of the Navy and a non-traditional senior at UW-Eau Claire, said she had a wonderful experience in the military and adjusted back to civilian life rather painlessly.
However, she knows other veterans were not so lucky and may need some help to work through issues.
“My transition was easy, but I can’t say that for everybody,” Doubek said. “There’s a lot of troubled people.”
In a recent press release, the University said it has made a number of changes to its Veteran Services program over the past year to help those veterans that need it, specifically female veterans.
The overhaul of the program began when Miranda Cross-Schindler was hired as military education benefits coordinator last year. Prior to Cross-Schindler being made the full-time head of Veterans Services, the position was done on a part-time basis, which Doubek said limited the scope of the office’s ideas. Cross-Schindler was unavailable for comment.
Several initiatives have been implemented aimed at making female veterans more comfortable on campus. A luncheon was recently held for female veterans, dependents and spouses, which Doubek, who aditionally serves as Veterans Services assistant directly under Cross-Schindler, said went extremely well.
Women were given a chance to voice any concerns or vent any frustrations with Veterans Services, of which Doubek said the majority were about improving the health care system.
Doubek said female veterans face many unique situations when it comes to people’s expectations of them, which makes things like the luncheon important.
She said she has noticed a lot of female veterans are uncomfortable divulging their status as a veteran.
“The questions that come after that are sometimes not ones that they want to answer,” Doubek said. “It’s questions like, ‘What did you do?’ or things like, ‘You couldn’t have been on a ship.’”
Along with the luncheon and advisory panels where veterans can inform Eau Claire professors about what to expect from veterans in their classrooms, therapists are available for all veterans to speak with if they desire. A female therapist alternates with a male therapist, which provides female veterans who may be uncomfortable discussing things with a male with a chance to speak to someone who may understand more easily their concerns.
Sophomore Nick Bures, a certification assistant with Veterans Services, said the on-campus therapy can be a tremendous help to veterans.
“It’s a good tool to have for the university,” Bures said. “Students are very busy and they can’t always get down to the facilities in Tomah or all the way up in Iron Mountain or the Twin Cities. It’s pretty convenient to have it right here.”
Freshman Kyra Witcher is currently in the Reserves and plans on joining the Air Force upon graduating from Eau Claire. As the daughter of an Army veteran, she said she understands that some veterans enrolled in college do not have access to the resources available at Eau Claire.
“I’ve had a lot of friends in the military who haven’t really had the best experience with Veterans Services,” Witcher said. “From the get-go, they’ve been really helpful, as far as, ‘This is who you talk to’ or, ‘You can go through me.’”
Doubek said that improvements can always be made and that Veterans Services will be working to make life on campus as easy as possible for those that have served.
“Getting people in there, getting numbers up, getting people to talk, it’s a long ways to go,” Doubek said. “But in the past year, the development has been astronomical and it’s been great.”