Effort Underway To create Veterans Success Center At Clemson
Center aims help veterans learn about, utilize all the education benefits they are entitled to receive.
Work is underway to help veterans with their college experience at Clemson University.
Eric Lambert is a part of the Student Veterans Association at Clemson. Lambert served in the Marines.
“We're trying to create a Veterans Success Center at Clemson,” Lambert said. “There's so many different possibilities for veterans advocacy that we could do, getting them college prepped, helping them deal with their problems, locking on to all these different benefits.”
Many veterans are unaware of the full extent of their benefits, Lambert said.
“The biggest thing that a lot of veterans say is they don't know,” he said. “They didn't know they were entitled to it. They didn't know they had. They didn't know how to apply for it.”
The Veterans Success Center at Clemson will help with those issues, Lambert said.
“Hopefully, we can make it community-based, where we can start serving the Upstate,” he said.
Lambert said he's done similar work at the University of Kentucky, which is ranked seventh in the nation in a listing of veterans-friendly colleges.
“It's really changing the culture,” Lambert said.
He said veterans will drive the economic recovery.
“They're the future,” Lambert said. “They're the ones that are going to be bringing us out of this economic slump, with all these veterans benefits. It's going to be all these veterans who are coming home with nothing to do.”
He said that currently only 15,000 of the state's 50,000 veterans are using their veterans.
“How do we put the other 35,000 into school and use those benefits?” Lambert said. “We can turn the state around, and if we keep working, we can turn the whole country around.”
It's crucial that veterans are aware of the benefits that can assist with their educations, he said.
“To make sure we can take advantage of all their good, hard work they've done in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world,” Lambert said. “We take advantage of that, we get them an education and we put them to work.”
The group also wants the university to have an adviser who works solely with veterans.
“Clemson doesn't have anything like that, and the problems that veterans face, the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the traumatic brain injuries, stuff like that, financial aid, families on top of that, counseling, VA health care - the advisers there don't cut it,” Lambert said. “They don't cut it.
CU President James Barker wants to change that, and make the campus more veteran-friendly, Lambert said.
Lambert said the specific funding sources to make that happen haven't been identified as yet, but multiple sources exists for helping veterans with education.
“There's so much money out there that it's really a case of, 'What do we want to do?'” Lambert said.