WSU Tri-Cities pledges veterans support

By Jacques Von Lunen, Herald staff writer May 19, 2011 

RICHLAND -- Washington State University Tri-Cities on Wednesday became one of 20 college campuses in the state to pledge to be a Veteran Supportive Campus.

And a new university committee for veterans affairs is being formed, officials announced.

The pledge was signed by Mike Gregoire -- the governor's husband, who is a veteran -- and WSU President Elson Floyd in the ceremony on the Richland campus.

It had been signed earlier by John Lee, director of the state's Department of Veterans Affairs.

The pledge is part of a statewide effort by the governor's office, veterans administration officials and higher-ed agencies.

Among the goals are to make university staff more aware of veterans' needs, to create veteran-specific orientations and to improve veterans' use of the G.I. Bill.

The number of veterans attending WSU Tri-Cities has more than doubled in the past four years -- to 152 today -- Floyd said.

Gregoire, who served in Vietnam before returning to the University of Washington, recalled the poor treatment he and other former soldiers received on campuses in the 1960s.

The pledge to ease veterans into college life after their military service "deeply touched" him, Gregoire said.

"I'm so proud of all of you for what you're doing," he said.

Signing the pledge was a "milestone for this campus," said WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor Vicky Carwein.

Floyd announced another milestone during the ceremony -- one that had come about because of the work of a Tri-City student.

Scott Dawson, president of the Veterans Club Association and Support on the Richland campus, has lobbied university administrators for a year to establish a presidential committee for veterans' affairs.

Such committees are made up of faculty, students and administrators from all WSU campuses and advise the president.

During the ceremony, Floyd joked about getting a lot of emails from Dawson and announced that the soldier would get his wish.

"We'll get it set up within the next several weeks," Floyd told the Herald after the ceremony.

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