Veterans’ Center’s Need for Space

Caroline Necheles and Felicia Whatley

Dear UMB Community,

I could only fit six people here at once. It is almost impossible to have more than one conversation at a time. There are over 500 veterans now on campus, and on a weekly basis over 150 vets come through the center-to relax, play chess or cards, or use the computers. It is difficult for them to relax with the limited space they have.

The number one thing for the center is to have a space where vets can talk to other vets and engage in peer counseling. There is not enough space to discuss sensitive issues in such an open area. As it is now the Veterans’ Center is in an unsecured space. They can’t discuss classified or emotional information here.

Vets can’t come here and comfortably do homework. Most vets are used to activity going on around them. They are used to high-energy areas that have more activity that’s why vets can’t just go to the library. The Vets’ Center is supposed to be a happy medium. That’s what the Vet Center is for.

There are many events coordinated out of the Center. The Center is very important because this should be a place to convene. I am putting together Monday Night Football viewings and I will be working with the Veterans’ Homeless Center off the Government Center T stop. We are going to help feed the homeless veterans for Thanksgiving.

We will commemorate November 5 for Vietnam Veterans’ Day and remember the soldiers of the 103rd Infantry, who were overrun by the VC.

There is also an art expo starting where UMB veterans’ painting, drawings, and digital art can be showcased. UMass Boston vets can come together here to express themselves. The deadline is October 25 for submissions.

UMB vets discuss strong topics amongst themselves. Our vets have said “it’s (the Veterans’ Center) is not big enough or private enough.” Here they have to watch what they say, and be careful not to say the wrong thing to offend someone.

It would makes sense to have all the veterans’ campus services, like the Upward Bound, the Jointer Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences the campus Veterans’ Affairs Representative, and the Veterans’ Center in one place. I don’t think the veterans’ services should be so far away from one another. It would be more beneficial to vets if it were in one place.

There have been spaces on campus in the past where vets can congregate. This will be a memorable place that vets will miss when they graduate.

The idea is to have a space where veterans can freely express themselves when things become overwhelming. Space is a rare commodity, but is something I’m working towards for veterans, because they deserve that.

We have the largest amount of veterans for a state school in Massachusetts. This group is under expressed in a vet friendly university. Basic needs, including a Center where vets are secure enough to feel safe, doesn’t exist here.

The UMB community needs to show the veterans at UMB they care by saying “thank you”. The administration should accept smart credits for training courses we take. I don’t know what it would take to get a Military Science ROTC program started here, but it is worth looking into.

The disabled vets have things in common with the disabled students on campus, but the vets need their own space to speak freely. Though putting them conjointly next to one another would make sense.

We need a space where 25 students can safely meet with elbowroom to boot. We need to offer a center where vets look forward to coming to, to decompress or relax. I want a center bigger than an office where they feel welcome to come. Right now it feels like an office, not a center. We have to hurry-up-and wait for the new GI Bill or hurry-up-and wait for a new center.

Some vets coming from active duty need some adjustment care. I want to make sure the veterans on campus are getting the services they need. They need to know they can come to me, and I will be their advocate. That’s what I am here for. I also make events for vets happen.

I am putting together a trip to Washington D.C. for the veterans as well April 16-19. Interested vets should contact me. There is an invitation to the White House for a tour for 45 veterans. We will also go to the Arlington cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Women veterans’ museum, and the Vietnam veterans’ wall.

If anybody wants to get involved, or has any questions or comments, they can reach me at [email protected]


Caroline Necheles

UMB Veterans Center Coordinator.