Veterans Alliance elects new president

Joe Hunter, the president of SVA, a current student at WKU and a former Marine, plants a handful of flags on the lawns of Centennial Mall to pay respect to the veterans he has known. Srijita Chattopadhyay/HERALD

Jodi Camp

Recently, WKU’s Student Veterans Alliance unanimously voted Joseph Hunter president of the group’s university chapter.

Hunter is a Madisonville senior, an electrical engineering major and a Marine Corps veteran. He wanted a position as president with SVA to act in the best interest of the veteran community on campus.

“I felt I would have a better opportunity to gain support, experience and authority to make changes to campus policy in a positive way toward the cause of veteran awareness,” Hunter said.

He served in the United States Marine Corps from July 2004 to May 2013 and was stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, for the majority of his deployment. He did a seven-month tour in Afghanistan and spent close to a year stationed on the Marine Corps Embassy Security in Germany, Sudan and El Salvador.

SVA’s mission is to provide resources, support and advocacy to current and former military members and their families, according to the SVA website.

As president, Hunter will be responsible for reaching out to the military community on WKU’s campus.

Joshua Smith, consultant for the Military Student Services, said there were 2,339 students at WKU who were either veterans, active service members or military dependents after the fall 2015 semester.

For the 2015 fall semester, there were 690 students using the G.I. Bill to pay for their education. However, this number varies from semester to semester according to Schella Smith, Veteran Affairs coordinator.

“It usually averages around 700-720 [students] a semester,” Smith said.

There are several different resources for veterans around campus: the VA Financial Office in Potter Hall, the Military Student Services office in Tate Page Hall and the Veterans Upward Bound office in Jones-Jagger Hall. Any veteran, active duty member or military dependent can go to any of these offices to ask for help or guidance.

Hunter said he believes SVA connects all these resources for veterans.

“For WKU I believe the Student Veterans Alliance serves as the hub for all of these resources and as a rally point for veterans to find and mentor one another,” Hunter said. “Now that I am president of the SVA, I plan to use the connections and knowledge I’ve gained to better connect veterans with each other and the resources they need to succeed in higher education.”