Amanda Etter applied to be the new director of the Military Affiliated Resource Center at the start of the fall 2023 semester. The MARC has never had a permanent coordinator position.
“I am excited to open up new opportunities and new relationships with SVA [Student Veterans Association] and the VA office [Office of Veterans Affairs], especially after coming over from the VA office,” Etter said.
Etter was one of the school certifying officials in the VA office over the summer of 2023 semester and the start of the fall 2023 semester, and serves as coordinator of the MARC in charge of spending a $600,000 grant that was awarded by the Department of Education. The goal of this grant is to create cohesive positions in the MARC to build a seamless relationship with the VA office and military affiliated students.
David Brooks, student program coordinator for veterans benefits, said there was never a good working relationship between the VA office and vet center.
“The coordinator’s job was to babysit the people who were using the lounge space,” Brooks said.
Brooks said the coordinator was a nine-month rotating position, but the most recent coordinator served for 12 months.
“It was kind of hard to develop a working relationship with a position like that,” Brooks said. “I would bring them over here [to the VA office] and train them, but during the training the nine-month period would be up so I would have to restart the process again.”
In 2017, the vet center changed to the MARC and moved from a small, office-sized space on the first floor of the K-State Student Union to a newly renovated space on the top floor. This allowed more space for lounging and gatherings to happen. However, Brooks said the dynamic stayed the same.
“I want one or two of the new positions to be able to answer basic questions on VA benefits because a lot of the military-affiliated students are using the GI Bill,” Brooks said.
Etter said the writer of the grant, Dominic Barnes, outlined goals for her to achieve.
“We have envisioned a work-study program that is shared between the MARC and the VA office,” Etter said. “Dominic has also specifically asked to improve culture awareness for faculty and staff that I oversee.”
Etter said she also has goals for herself in her new position.
“Some of the personal goals I have is to have a better planning system for events,” Etter said. “Right now, we just finished a Veterans Day event and we are going to start planning a graduation event, but we wish to hold more events for future semesters. I also want to add programs that help military people fill out their FAFSA and to specifically help out veterans transition into higher education and civilian jobs.”
The prerequisite to participate in the VA work-study program is to have access and use VA educational benefits. Etter said she hopes to change this rule.