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SVA Voices • Anita O'Daniel:
Student Veterans of America prides itself on celebrating the diversity of the many student veterans that make up our chapters across the country. This June, in celebration of LGBT Pride, we not only celebrate the culture and history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, we also recognize their countless contributions as student veterans and highlight their stories of success.
Anita O'Daniel is an Air Force veteran, and mother of two young children. She will receive her BA in Deaf Education from University of Tulsa in May of 2018. She plans to continue her education and earn her Masters of Occupational Therapy which will enable her to bring occupational therapy services to the deaf community, which she has observed has a lack of occupational therapists who know how to communicate with deaf clients. She is also currently the Treasurer for the University of Tulsa SVA and married to a fellow Air Force veteran.
Anita emphasized that, "I think it's important to talk about who you are - if someone has a different culture or way of life or is from a different part of the country or world, I find it intriguing because it makes them the person that they are. I don't always clarify that I am bisexual, when I introduce myself to someone, but it is definitely an important part of who I am and I do think it's important to talk about." Anita says that "over the years I have become very open to conversations about my identity within the LGBTQ community and have begun to see these conversations as teaching opportunities."
The aspects of her SVA chapter that Anita values the most is "that no matter the differences throughout our group, everyone is supportive of your goals." She also says that her chapter "helps individuals succeed by providing the necessary outside resources that help can them achieve their goals."
The SVA resource that she's found most useful to her and her chapter is SVA's Vet Center Initiative, sponsored by the Home Depot Foundation, which allowed the University of Tulsa SVA to create the TU Student Veteran House. She also spoke fondly of her experiences at NatCon as well as of the direct support from SVA Director of Disability in Education, Dan Standage, who helped their chapter with multiple disability-related issues. Anita says that attending NatCon 2017 was "a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience." She added that "meeting people from other chapters that have face the same challenges and opportunities on their campuses, was incredible."
Anita's story demonstrates that student veterans are not only succeeding in higher education, but becoming the leaders of tomorrow. It also demonstrates how the diversity of thought and lived experiences are truly a strength for SVA chapter leaders, and a cornerstone for SVA as a national organization. SVA Voices is an ongoing campaign celebrating student veteran success. Become a part of the campaign and share your story today!