Veteran Center changes name, expands focus

The newly named Military Affiliated Resource Center is located in Student Union 217. (Archive photo by Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

The Student Veterans’ Center, located in Student Union 217, recently changed its name to the Military Affiliated Resource Center — or MARC for short.

Justin Frederick, assistant dean for the Office of Student Life, said the name change better reflects the diverse community it serves.

“We’re serving our student population that is more inclusive and representative to who’s using the center and who can benefit from the center,” Frederick said. “So, kind of working with all of the military-connected populations, whether that be dependents, active, ROTC, veterans, National Guard, all those kinds of areas and really being a place for that community to come together on campus.”

Kevin Nalette, Military Affiliated Resource Center coordinator and 27-year Air Force veteran, began his position this semester. He said he is spending his first months in the position gauging the needs of MARC and K-State’s military-affiliated population.

“In typical military fashion, I’m taking the first six months or so, and I’m evaluating … what we currently have, and I’m listening to students as they come in to talk about what it is they think they might want to have in the future,” Nalette said. “I will make an assessment over this semester if there is something we need to do differently or do better.”

Nalette said the primary goal of the MARC is to work with the Veterans Administration representatives on campus to answer questions and provide information about veteran benefits. Additionally, the center provides a space for people in the military-affiliated community — typically non-traditional students — to connect.

“What we’d like to do is provide them a space where they can just take a breath and have a conversation with folks that have shared experiences,” Nalette said. “We all like our shared experiences, and this just happens to be a spot where us who served in the military, in some form or fashion, can just bend a friendly ear if we need to.”

The MARC provides group collaboration and study spaces along with a computer lab connected to K-State’s network.

“We’ve had study groups,” Nalette said. “But mostly, it’s just a quiet environment for folks in between classes to get a little work done and then go forth and conquer.”

On top of these resources, the MARC hosts the Student Veterans Association, which helps veterans transition into academia. However, the SVA was unable to renew its membership with the national organization this past year during the pandemic.

“What we are working to do is reinvigorate that organization,” Nalette said. “We need to find the right time for the students that are back on campus to meet, reregister the organization and generate some support.”

When active, Nalette said the SVA is more in touch with the local community.

“This is the private organization, if you will, that can do different things with veterans on campus and the community,” Nalette said. “They’re the ones that can do a lot of the different activities with the veterans and community that we’re not able to do as the facility. So, we’re hoping to generate some interest in getting that organization going again.”

While Nalette and his staff are working to restart the SVA, the MARC continues to provide a meeting place for the military-connected community.

Aaron Debolt, senior in finance, said the MARC is vital to K-State and its military-affiliated population.

“It means everything to K-State,” Debolt said. “It’s absolutely the place to be to chat up other military people, get resources and have a good time.”

Nalette said he believes this collaboration and use of resources fulfills the purpose of the MARC for K-State.

“If you want to connect with your fellow veterans, come over here and hang out with us for a while,” Nalette said. “Have the conversation with your peers and use the space that we have.”

More information about the Military Affiliated Resource Center is on the K-State Non-Traditional and Veteran Student Services website.