AMES, Iowa — Several years ago, Iowa State University began a program to serve veterans on campus. Currently, this office serves around 3,000 veterans, including family members on the campus.
“We have a mission of strengthening the lives of veterans, military personnel, your families, in our community,” said Jathan Chicoine, director of the Iowa State University Veterans Center. “Higher education is often in the first place that veterans are re-integrating back in civilian context, so it’s not uncommon for institutions to have programs or centers like our veteran center here at Iowa State.”
The Veterans Center works with students to provide tutoring to help, brush up on math skills, or offer writing support.
“Every Thursday during the fall and spring semesters, we provide a free meal to our students. It’s called our Thursday night dinner program,” said Chicoine. “This is a simple expression of our gratitude. It’s a way for us to get back to those that served. Coming together around food like that is a good wonderful way to create community.”
Chicoine, a graduate of Gilbert High School, served in the Navy and spent time in South Dakota before returning home to head the Iowa State Veterans program.
“For a lot of veterans, in our experiences, we come from a place where we’re part of something larger than ourselves,” said Chicoine. “Many of us, I think, are trying to figure out that next step in their life and that purpose and trying to be very often part of something larger than themselves.”