Before they were leaders on campus, they were leaders defending their country. Student veterans from around northwest Florida will congregate at Santa Fe College on Friday, Sept. 17, for the two-day Student Veteran and Certifying Official Training Conference, hosted by Santa Fe’s own Collegiate Veteran Society.
A total of 60 student veterans and almost 20 certifying officials will be exchanging information Friday and Saturday on how to help their campus veteran organizations be all that they can be.
“It’s a one-of-a-kind event. I don’t think there’s ever been a conference in Florida catering to student veterans trying to make clubs on campus,” said Tamsen Pintler, veteran’s advocate specialist.
This leadership conference will be split into two sessions, one for student veterans and the other for certifying officials, the employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs who approve students for GI Bill benefits.
While certifying officials will hear about updates for regional GI Bill chapters, student veterans will learn to collaborate with student government and other veteran organizations to create effective clubs of their own.
“The long-term goal is to have all of the organizations network with each other, so if one club needs help or wants more participation, we can all go up and help,” said Pintler.
The student veterans hail from a variety of colleges, from the University of Central Florida to St. Leo University, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University to St. Petersburg College. Travel expenses, meals, and lodging for three representatives from each college will be funded by the Florida Community Foundation under the Brave Grant.
“The reason that the Florida Foundation gave us the Brave Grant is that we’re a model veteran club, and we continue to help veterans and their efforts through the club,” Pintler said of Santa Fe’s Collegiate Veterans Society.
SF Collegiate Veterans Society
Since its debut in 1999, the society has been responsible for many of the patriotic events on campus, including erecting the large flagpole near the softball field (pictured), creating the Patriots’ Circle flag area, and organizing both Bikers on Parade and the upcoming All-American Liberty Fest. Recently, they even passed the $200,000 fundraising mark for the Veterans Bridge Scholarship Fund.
Santa Fe’s Collegiate Veteran Society represents a fraction of the almost 800 veterans on campus, a number that Pintler expects to grow as military personnel return home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We feel that there are more returning veterans starting college now, with the creation of the post 9/11 GI Bill,” said Pintler. “There’s a great need for student veterans to feel like they belong to a student group. Having college organizations for veterans to do patriotic events will go a long way.”
For more information about veteran services at Santa Fe College, call 352-395-5505. You can also go online to http://www.sfcollege.edu/student/VA/.
~ This press release was written by Allison Griner, Communication Specialist, College Relations
Tamsen Pintler, event organizer, 352-395-5505 (office), 406-291-2189 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie Garrett, for help facilitating your story, 352-870-2924 (cell) or 352-395-5430 (office) or email@example.com
The conference is meeting in Building R, room 01