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Washington State University Office of the Provost

Student veterans gain advocates

James Dalton remembers the anxious feelings of being back on a college campus after years of serving in the Army. Penny Martinez empathizes with military veterans who may opt for staying home rather than joining a study group or attending a social event.

The two veterans are committed to providing resources and support to help military-affiliated students excel at WSU. Martinez joined the WSU staff in August as the veterans coordinator, while Dalton serves as the Vet Corps navigator in the region.

Martinez says she is determined to make sure military-affiliated students find a friendly face in the Veterans Center, along with the necessary tools to pursue their academic goals.

“Caring for veterans and military-affiliated family members is a passion of mine,” says Martinez, who served in the Army for more than 24 years. “The military community helped raise me and I want to give back.”

Martinez is the lone full-time staff member in the Office of Veteran Affairs at WSU Pullman. She assists students and prospective students with their GI Bill certification, connects students to resources across campus and is setting up events to promote community and relationships.

Dalton serves students in his role with the Vet Corps, a Washington Department of Veteran Affairs program designed to support peer mentorship for veterans, spouses and dependents transitioning to higher education. WSU’s former Vet Corps navigator was instrumental in helping Dalton become successful as an undergraduate and now he’s returning the favor.

“I provide peer mentorship and counseling,” says Dalton. “I like to think of this position as a rolodex for students. I can help them through any issues or point them in the right direction. The program works, and it’s something that I hope continues at WSU for a long time.”

Dalton also teaches University 497, a seminar course for military-affiliated students that is affectionately known as “Rucksacks to Backpacks.” The course is currently offered at WSU Pullman, but the goal is to make it available across the WSU system in the future.

“The class is designed to help people transition from the military to an academic setting like WSU,” Dalton explains. “Veterans tend to struggle during their first semester a disproportionate rate to regular students. This course is meant to try to alleviate that. I know my transition here was really rough. That’s part of the reason I wanted to teach this course, is to help people where I needed help.”

Student veterans can access resources at all WSU campuses. The Office of the Provost is committed to supporting military-affiliated students through the Student Veterans Advisory Committee. For more information, contact Craig Parks, vice provost for system innovation and policy.

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Washington State University