The Veterans Alliance at Texas State (VATS) is now a chartered student organization at the university with secured office space and permanent funding.
Joanne Smith, vice president of Student Affairs, said VATS was officially chartered last spring and is now under the jurisdiction of the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion.
“(Being chartered is) really a higher level of responsibility for the organization,” Smith said. “But also, a chartered organization means that the organization becomes a function of an office at the university.”
There are few chartered student organizations at Texas State, Smith said. The university has more than 350 organizations, but currently there are only 17 chartered student organizations, according to the Campus Activities and Student Organizations website.
“The granting of chartered status represents a partnership between the university and the chartered organization’s executive body,” said Corey Benson, the organization’s advisor. “The student organization becomes chartered when the group and a university department—and it can be an academic department or a department in student affairs—share similar missions and goals, and the two agree to work together to achieve those goals.”
Smith said becoming a chartered student organization is the highest level an organization can achieve.
“Our main goal here is to help students, to retain our veterans and help them graduate,” Smith said. “That’s always the bottom line.”
Miles Nelson, president of VATS, served in the Marines before coming to Texas State. Nelson said the alliance has access to “an actual budget from the university” now that the organization is chartered, which will help the group accomplish its set goals.
Benson said VATS receives $1,000, and veteran programs have a shared budget of about $2,500 through the Underrepresented Student Advisory Council (USAC). He said the student organization did not have a “line item” in the USAC budget and had to apply for funds before the alliance was chartered.
Benson said VATS now has a “veterans resource room” located on the fourth floor of the LBJ Student Center that will serve as a lounge and study room for student veterans. Benson said the space will serve as the office for the alliance.
The office was previously a storage space and is in the process of being renovated before a grand opening of the room in the coming weeks, Benson said.
“(The Veterans Alliance is) here to help service members with their transition into and then eventually through college,” Nelson said. “The idea is to help them be successful Bobcats and to make the most out of their college years.”
Nelson said helping the transition includes “continuing the sense of camaraderie” they had in the service and helping them become aware of available resources.
Students qualify as members of the alliance if they have served at least 180 days of active duty and are honorably discharged from the military, or are currently serving their honorable contract as a reservist or in the National Guard, Nelson said. There are “no fees, no dues, no mandatory anything” to be a part of the alliance, Nelson said.
Nelson said by the VATS constitution, membership is automatically granted to any student, faculty or staff member who is a veteran. However, they typically only count those who have signed up on the TRACS site as members. Nelson said there are currently 265 members on TRACS with about 50 to 75 members active on a regular basis.
Every fall semester VATS hosts a Veterans Day 5K fundraising event for charity, Nelson said. VATS have also been working closely with the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and the Wounded Warrior Project. Nelson said each spring the organization holds a golf tournament and hosts veteran graduation receptions.
Nelson said this year the organization is planning a “Warrior Olympics” and hosting a movie series.