Second annual student-veteran appreciation day

Army Cadet and nursing sophomore Aaron Sanborn dishes up chili at the second annual Student Veterans Appreciation Day on Wednesday in the Armory.

Marija Majerle

Army Cadet and nursing sophomore Aaron Sanborn dishes up chili at the second annual Student Veterans Appreciation Day on Wednesday in the Armory.

Students, faculty and family gathered in the Armory Wednesday, the day after VeteranâÄôs day, to honor the University of MinnesotaâÄôs student-veterans. The second annual Student Veterans Appreciation Day brought people together to honor student-veterans and to celebrate advances in veteran benefits made this year. This yearâÄôs agenda included breakfast, a chili lunch and a resource fair. Senior Veterans Coordinator with One Stop Carin Anderson, who worked to coordinate the event, said it was held the day after VeteranâÄôs Day because many of the guests and speakers were busy with other events around the Twin Cities on Tuesday. Guests included Sen. Amy Klobuchar , Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs Clark Dyrud and University Regent Dean Johnson. Anderson, who is also a veteran of the Iraq war, works with One Stop to help student-veterans return to school. She said her own experience returning to school after the war helps her to be aware of what student-veterans need. âÄúItâÄôs hard going from being told what to do all the time, to getting yourself up for class and writing papers,âÄù she said. Anderson said there are about 500 student-veterans on campus who receive benefits. Jason Oldenkamp, a senior studying applied economics , was in the Marine Corps in Iraq between February 2003 and March 2005. His job was to help civil affairs groups work to rebuild communities in Iraq. Oldenkamp said he had trouble adjusting when he came to campus in fall 2005. âÄúI had been out of high school for four years,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs hard to start again after being out of an academic environment for so long.âÄù Oldenkamp also had trouble receiving his veteranâÄôs benefits from the University. âÄúWe werenâÄôt getting the help we needed in a timely manner,âÄù he said. âÄúBut the program has improved tremendously.âÄù Oldenkamp credits much of this change to Anderson, who he said works hard to make sure all of the veterans receive the help they need getting back into school. Amelious Whyte, chief of staff at the UniversityâÄôs Office of Student Affairs, said the UniversityâÄôs program for veterans is now a national model for other universities. Mary Koskan, director of One Stop, said the University has seen a 20 percent increase in the number of student-veterans on campus in the last three years, but saw 60 fewer veterans enrolled this fall. Koskan said there could be several reasons for this, including the new GI Bill, which will go into effect in August 2009. Koskan said many veterans may be waiting for the new bill to go into effect before they enroll. The new GI Bill will pay veterans who have served at least 90 days of active duty after Sept. 11, 2001 for full tuition, books and a monthly living stipend. During her speech, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said this year was the largest federal increase in veteran spending ever. âÄúIn Washington we have the duty to serve you just like you have served us,âÄù she said. âÄúThere shouldnâÄôt be a line waiting for your benefits in the United States.âÄù