The only veterans’ center of its kind in Northern Nevada opened officially with a celebratory event Thursday on the Western Nevada College campus.
“This is a huge milestone for us,” said Timothy Galluzi, an eight-year Marine Corps sergeant who now leads of the WNC Student Veterans Club and is one of the student workers at the Student Veterans Resources Center in the Cedar Building on campus. “We’re here so we can help student veterans succeed.”
Galuzzi also said the center is a place where veterans can hang out, jettison the stress of academics for a while or go “if they want to chill.”
The ceremony, held in a nearby building because the four-room Cedar Building center couldn’t hold the crowd attracted, was led by Kevin Burns, an English professor, adviser to the student veterans club and resources center superintendent. A 15-year Marine Corps veteran, he reached the rank of major and served in Operation Desert Storm before leaving the service.
Student veterans are mature and on a mission, but sometimes face different challenges from other students, Burns said. Among them are smoothing the transitions from military to civilian and student life. The center’s mission, he said, is to help them “transition from soldiers to scholars,” navigate financial matters, deal with campus life and cope with the lack of structure in comparison with time in the military.
He said 19 percent of student veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder and grapple with their new roles in society.
“They don’t sleep, or if they do it’s very fitful,” he said, giving one example.
Burns said that when he came to WNC in 2007, there was no club or center; a club formed in 2010. Club meetings proved difficult because of conflicting schedules, and the effort began to get space on campus for a center, he said. It took time for a designation of space, which came a year ago, and work began toward today’s official opening.
“What we ended up getting was prime real estate on campus,” he said.
There are about 175 student veterans on campus, Burns said. More than 60 are in the club, and the center will provide a place in which vets can go to relax and work at “mentoring each other.”
In a news release, WNC called the center the only one of its kind in Northern Nevada, saying it offers not only a student staff, but counseling services, access to Veterans Administration benefits and medical information, and a study/tutor area with Internet access. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 8 a.m. until noon Fridays.