New organization offers support to student veterans

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by Andrea Lopez, for The Muleskinner
“Yesterday’s warriors, today’s scholars, tomorrow’s leaders,” is the motto that stands strong to the Student Veteran’s Organization, a club founded in January 2012. Separate from the Veteran’s Success Center, and just like any other affiliation on campus, the Student Veteran’s Organization is a means for students to get together and have something in common.
Dr. Gary Krizanich is the man behind the golden scheme. As a veteran of the United States Army, Krizanich stepped up to be the faculty adviser. “For me personally, as I get older it seems to gain more importance for me, so I’m glad that I’m involved with the group and we’re able to reach out even beyond the campus community for some of our activities,” Krizanich said.
Initially, the SVO was thought to be a good resource for new students who may not have had university experience, or who aren’t familiar with the various programs that are available. This club acts as a mentor to new students, and tells them who to speak with and what benefits are accessible to them.
To join the SVO, a student must be an active-duty military member, retiree, veteran, or family member. SVO meetings are held every first Wednesday of the month in Union 117. Guest speakers have included the American Legion and Missouri Veteran’s Commission.
The SVO could be described as a unique group of individuals, because they are people who have served, so that sets them apart from the rest of the community. “Less than one percent of the entire U.S. population serves in the military, so we talk about the one percent; well this is a different one percent here, these are people that have worn the uniform and served the country,” Krizanich said.
Creating a support system is the main goal of the SVO. It creates a safe place where individuals can share a common experience because they are able to relate to one another.
Being from the Vietnam era, Krizanich reminisced on how the nightly news would share constant updates about the war. In the most recent conflicts dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan, not much information has been released through the news media, which can make people detached.  “Unless you know somebody, whether it be a friend, relative or loved one who is serving and being deployed, there is a tendency to just put it out of your mind,” Krizanich said.
As the SVO grows, the members said they hope more people will find out about it. The organization has become involved with campus events such as Get the Red Out, and the Mule Haul, and will participate in Homecoming. It also participates in the Memorial and Veteran’s Day celebrations.
“We’re trying to form a connection with the university population as a whole, and we want to be like any other club,” Krizanich said. “We don’t want to be seen as a foreign group that just happens to be newly formed, but we want to participate in the university’s life and want to be able to contribute.”
The organization is looking for more outreach events, such as volunteering at the Veteran’s Home. “It is important, especially for veterans, to acknowledge other veterans and participate in things that honor them,” Krizanich said.
As for now, the SVO is focusing on growing membership, getting the word out about what it is and what it does, as well as being recognized as a positive force for the campus community.
For more information, visit the Military and Veterans Success Center, located in Elliott Union 117, or email Krizanich at [email protected]