SVA on the Road: University of New Mexico, Central New Mexico Community College, Santa Fe Community College
Student Veterans of America | May 25, 2017

Written By: Mr. Eric Gage, Director of Programs

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I recently had the privilege of traveling to New Mexico to speak at the New Mexico Higher Education Veteran Resource Center Summit, hosted by the State of New Mexico VA, along with groups of veteran resource directors from around the state. The event took place in Albuquerque, and had many local and national veteran organizations represented, as well as leaders from campuses across the state. While on campus, chapter leaders and I had the honor of meeting with different campus, community, and state officials to discuss improving campus communities for student veterans.

While in New Mexico, had the opportunity to tour the campuses of three area schools, the first being the University of New Mexico (UNM), a beautiful campus with endless opportunities for students. The campus has a veteran resource center that offers various resources to veterans attending classes at UNM. The SVA Chapter President at UNM, Eliberto Calderon, saw a need for even more support on campus and recently convinced the school to provide UNM veterans with a building at the edge of campus. This standalone building will be known as the Student Veteran Support Center, and will be run by student veterans. It will include a lounge, computer lab, study space, meeting space, and even a mother's nursing space.

The next campus I visited was Central New Mexico Community College(CNM). Though the campus doesn't have an SVA chapter, it has an impressive veteran resource center and an active campus veteran program. With full support of the Dean of Students, the veteran resource center offers support and programing to the student veterans at CNM. One of the veteran-centric programs CNM offers is the Sky Warriors Balloon Project. This program provides student veterans the opportunity to work as a team with hot air balloons, learning to operate and support the balloon.

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My final stop was with the 2015 SVA National Business Plan Competition winner, Santa Fe Community College (SFCC). The SVA Chapter at SFCC is an impressive group, led by a motivated group of student veteran leaders and their Chapter Advisor, Gregory Scargall, 2015 SVA Chapter Advisor of the Year. SFCC SVA is active both on and off campus, working with and partnering with groups and departments on campus, as well as working in the community doing service projects that few other groups of volunteers are willing to do. It was great to get to spend the day with this chapter who is very proud of their campus, their veteran resource center, and the work they do in the community. In 2015, they were awarded a 2015 Vet Center Initiative Grant and have certainly put it to good use. Once can clearly see that this chapter has a meaningful impact on the student veterans on their campus.

My presentation at the New Mexico Higher Education Veteran Resource Center Summit, which highlighted the work of SVA across the country, concluded my visit. This allowed me to hear from stakeholders across New Mexico about how we can better work together and better serve student veterans, as well as highlight the many tools and resources available to them through SVA. Veteran resource directors from across the state vowed to continue developing their vet centers on their campuses, and as the motto of New Mexico states: "Crescit Eundo," or "It grows as it goes." 


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