Student veterans and staff of DePaul University gathered as the brand new veterans lounge opened with a ribbon cutting on Oct. 1. This new lounge is located in suite 11007 in the DePaul Center at the loop campus. The purpose of the veterans lounge is to promote a sense of belonging and welcoming to current students who are veterans. While witnessing the event, I heard some amazing speeches and spoke with some of the Veteran liaisons that were excited about the new lounge.
Senior Heather Duke who studies software development gave a speech about the importance of the veterans lounge. In her speech, she describes her experience as a veteran. Prior to DePaul, Duke served in the navy. For three years she was stationed in Sasebo, Japan. Afterward, she came back to the US commissioning the USS gravely DDG 107, and mentions how she made some amazing friends. After starting school at DePaul University in the Fall of 2016, she mentions how she was disconnected from her classmates. Duke wanted to connect with individuals who understood her hardships she faced and various obstacles. After finding out about the Students Veterans Union through the veteran liaisons, she learned many veterans felt the same way. As a result, the Students Veterans Union created a new lounge for student veterans to make sure they feel welcomed and a part of DePaul University.
Another veteran I spoke to was Matthew Sanchez, a liaison for the Office of Veteran Affairs. He mentioned to me how the lounge is great to have a space for veterans. While speaking he mentions how the veteran community has a lot of particular needs that the rest of the DePaul community can't cater to.
I am glad that I decided to attend the event because I met veterans and heard many interesting stories about them. Without this lounge, veterans would feel disconnected with each other and DePaul University definitely asked 'What must be done?" As an answer to this question, what came out of this new veterans lounge is the fact that veterans now have a place and a sense of belonging at DePaul University.