On the Job with David Reese
David Reese is the Coordinator of Veteran Student Life at the Stamp Student Union , University of Maryland–College Park.
Please describe your professional background related to your veteran service center position.
B.A.s in criminal justice and philosophy; two M.A.s in philosophy; sergeant, U.S. Army, 2002-2006; coordinator of veteran student life since August 2018.
Based on your experience and training, what services do student veterans most need?
Tutoring and academic assistance is extremely important, and a lot of it is not even related to ability, but to confidence. It can have been eight years, even more, since they’ve been out of school. We conducted a needs assessment in 2017, and one big thing that came up was the need for professional development and career building opportunities. Another was developing connections to non-veteran students because when you leave here there might not be that kind of support from other veterans.
How does your center communicate the unique experiences and possible transitions of student veterans?
Right now we’re focusing on what can be done to rethink less about veterans as victims or from the hero mentality point of view of the public and reinvigorating the idea of the veteran in the wide campus community so they understand and know what that lived experience is like. We have a wide population of people on campus in different areas that are committed to supporting veterans. The way that education is going to occur is through all of those university champions, from the student union and student affairs to academic departments and elsewhere. It trickles down.
What programs have been particularly successful?
The PAVE [Peer Advisors for Veteran Education] advising program is a mentorship model where [third- and fourth-year student] veterans serve as mentors and get matched with incoming students. They are matched before the new students go through a veteran-specific new student orientation, and the mentors attend the orientation, give them a campus tour, have lunch together. We have the new student orientation on a weekend as well because a large percentage of student veterans have jobs and families. At that orientation, they meet the student veteran organization president, the registrar’s office is there to help with technical paperwork, and we do a number of icebreaker-type things.