Today, we honor those who have bravely served our country. Happy Veterans Day!
Jon Quigley is a current MPA student and member of the Student Veterans Organization (SVO). Here are his thoughts on SVO, why he got involved, and what it means to him.
The Villanova Student Veterans Organization (SVO) was created with the purpose of crafting a community on campus for veterans to seek support from each other and connect with other veterans in the Greater Philadelphia Area. Many veterans, including myself, found that Villanova lacked the support for veterans coming to school here. Veterans such as Sean Halbom, Eric Swanson, and Teresa Wolfgang began laying the groundwork for an organization for veterans and those that support veterans. With the help of an undergraduate Marine Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) student, Walker Haynes, we were able to connect with Student Life and create an organization that will allow future veterans to have an opportunity to work with other veterans while attending classes here at Villanova.
When I think back on having to come onto campus as a veteran, I remember feeling lost and confused. It had been five years since I had been in college and the adjustment, not unlike my adjustment back into the civilian world after my time in the Army, was hard. I also remember thinking that this shouldn’t be the case for every veteran coming onto campus at such an amazing university like Villanova. After speaking with Eric, Sean, and Teresa, I heard similar stories and we decided that we wanted to work towards a goal of creating a community here at Villanova that welcomes veterans.
As I look back on my time here, I have seen positive changes in the support of veterans on campus. Dr. Catherine Wilson is the SVO advisor on campus. We have contacts within the College of Professional Studies in helping to identify veterans to seek to support them. The MPA program held its annual dinner last April in honor of veterans and had the pleasure of hosting Ms. Elisa Basnight, JD, MPA, Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Women Veterans. At that dinner, Father Peter, Dean Lindenmeyr, and Dean Palus were in attendance for the support of veterans. We have invited Captain Matthew Shoenfelt, an active duty Army Officer, into our organization and he has brought great ideas on how we can grow as an organization. Perhaps the best moment I have witnessed was the hiring of Justin Machain last spring in the Registrar’s Office as the Veteran’s Affairs Coordinator. Justin was hired to work with veterans and their needs. This level of support and advocacy for veterans on campus would not be attained without the hard work of graduates such as Eric and Teresa, without the support of the administration, and the support of those around us and in our programs.
On this Veterans Day, we would like to thank you for your support and please take a moment to consider those that served. I would also ask you to remember those that weren’t drafted or didn’t volunteer for service. For all of the brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers, wives and husbands, and, especially, sons and daughters who did not serve on the frontline, but served from home, waiting and worrying for when their veteran would return home, please remember to think of them as well.