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SVA Commemorates National Volunteer Month  
Student Veterans of America | April 21, 2017

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April is National Volunteer Month, a month dedicated to honoring volunteers in our communities as well as encouraging volunteerism throughout the year. This week concludes a very important year of service for several AmeriCorp VISTA members here at Student Veterans of America's National Headquarters. For Karin Buck, Kedryn Berrian, and Jonathan Granata, we celebrate their incredible contribution to SVA. To honor their year of service, we sat down with them to discuss the past year and learned what they have planned for the future. Here's what they had to say, in their own words:

How I Discovered Student Veterans of America  
Student Veterans of America | April 14, 2017
Written By: Mr. Eric Gage, Director of Programs

My journey started long before I joined the staff two years ago, this April.

I joined the military right out of high school. I was in basic training on September 11th 2001, sitting in a class called "Anti-Terrorism" when everything changed. I joined a peacetime military and by the time I exited basic training members of my Air Guard Unit were already activated and there was talk of deploying. During the next few years, my hand went up every time there was an ask for volunteers. I spent more than 6 years of my 12 years in the Guard activated and deployed many times.

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Between deployments I struggled to work out what to do with my life, knowing that another deployment could happen at any moment. I struggled to make the decisions needed to move forward with my life. In time, some people I was close to encouraged me to give college a try. I had never been a great student in high school and never had an interest in pursuing higher education, but with access to the GI Bill I saw it as a way to pay the bills and keep me out of trouble until the next activation came along. I stated taking classes at a satellite campus though the University of South Dakota (USD). I quickly learned that the skills I picked up in the military made me a much better student than I had ever been in the past. After a few semesters on the satellite campus and a few breaks for activation, it was time for me to start taking classes on the main campus of USD. I found a carpool to make the hour-long drive from my home to campus. During the second week of of my first semester on campus, while waiting for my carpool to head home I saw a poster that caught my eye. It was made by hand and looked a little rough, and was taped to a wall in a place that things weren't to be hung. It was advertising a GI Bill Forum and was hosted by the USD Veterans Club.

How Run as One Impacted Me
Student Veterans of America | April 7, 2017
Written By: Mr. Eric Gage, Director of Programs

On April 1st I had the honor of taking part in Run as One DC. Run as One took place in more than 100 locations across the country, bringing together 7 different veterans organizations and their members. I took part with some other members or the SVA staff, my wife, son and dog as well as about 200 other people who were willing to get up early on a cool and wet Saturday morning.

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SVA's Jared Lyon, Mark McKenna and Eric Gage, along with pup Eleanor at Run as One DC.

Why the time is right to improve the Post-9/11 GI Bill
Student Veterans of America | March 29, 2017

Written By: Mr. Will Hubbard, Vice President for Government Affairs
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You may have noticed us using #ForeverGIBill as we feature stories about GI Bill® students and their academic success in college. That's intentional, because there's no better time than the present to improve an education benefit program and secure its future while we see it working so well.

Since the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) started paying benefits in 2009, the Post-9/11 GI Bill has served over a million veterans, with more than half of degree-earners graduating from business, STEM, or health-related programs. We know this and many other successful outcomes thanks to our groundbreaking NVEST research.

My Campus Vet Center Was A Lifeline When I Needed It Most
Student Veterans of America | January 27, 2017
Written by: Ryne Tobar, a U.S. Navy Veteran and student at Duquesne University

The request to speak freely is not always an appeal to which permission is granted. I was a sailor who often tried to push etiquette with my superiors. Sometimes my boldness and candor was appreciated while at others it was met with reprimand. I cherish the ability to freely speak, a right guaranteed in the constitution that I took an oath to defend. It took an experience of having that right constricted to better understand the fullness of its possibility. Although I am again a civilian, I remain a veteran, and my experience in the military continues to shape the person I am today. What this means isn't always clear.


Ryne Tobar, pictured here at the Duquesne University Campus Vet Center

There are a lot of things that can't be taught in a college classroom. There are some things that must be experienced and experience takes time. Experience takes energy, it takes a certain amount of commitment. Experience requires a level of openness and the realization that an experience has changed who you are in some indescribable way. To try to communicate this to another may require twice as much energy, digging for words that feel like they have lost their meaning in the end. College is its own experience. Military service is certainly an experience of a very different type.


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