On the Job with Jathan Chicoine
Jathan Chicoine is the Veterans Services Coordinator at the Memorial Union, Iowa State University.
Please describe your professional background related to your veteran service center position.
B.A.s in cultural anthropology and international studies; M.A. in interdisciplinary studies; U.S. Navy SEAL, 1995-2001; veterans services coordinator since 2003.
Based on your experience and training, what services do student veterans most need?
Providing a space where military-affiliated students can come together because out of that space circles of support can begin to be created. Veterans come from a very collectivistic culture where there is dependence on the team, and that same sense of camaraderie may not always exist in the broader population. Financial concerns are also a continuing need. Third, is academic. Some research shows that vets don’t always perform at the same level, but when you can remove institutional barriers, they actually perform better.
How does your center communicate the unique experiences and possible transitions of student veterans?
We do what we call a Gold Star Faculty and Staff Training where we talk about what we do, let faculty and staff know that they do make a difference, and that the only way this can work is through a collaborative effort. We also try to provide opportunities for those who might feel removed from the veteran experience to become involved. We have what’s called the Gold Star Hall in the Memorial Union where the names of those from Iowa who have served are listed, and each year we have a Gold Star Ceremony open to the public during the week of Veteran’s Day. That’s on a Monday and on Wednesday, and we do a community feed open to the public. This year, on Thursday, since it’s the 100th anniversary of World War I, we’ll have a historian come in and talk about the impact that war had on Iowa State.
What programs have been particularly successful?
We have a Veterans Community Monetary Fund that is one example of how we try to mitigate financial challenges. Every Thursday we provide a homecooked meal at the Memorial Union Lutheran Church and Student Center, which is about a five-minute walk from our center, and that’s a popular gathering and where we offer math tutoring before the meal. That’s part of our Academic Recovery Program that does outreach throughout the year.