Serving her fellow veterans
180th FW Airman holds leadership post in BGSU student veterans chapter
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (12/21/20)
“America’s veterans have served their country with the belief that democracy and freedom are ideals to be upheld around the world.” — John Doolittle.
Each November, throughout the month and especially on Veterans Day, Americans honor and reflect on the brave men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces, and have continued to uphold those very ideals.
For Staff Sgt. Kathryn Dobbs, an aerospace medical technician assigned to the 180th Fighter Wing, and her team of fellow student veterans that make up the Student Veterans of America chapter at Bowling Green State University, the mission is to honor our nation’s veterans, not only on Veterans Day, but every day.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges to holding events for veterans, forcing Dobbs and other members of her SVA chapter to get creative in finding unique ways to support area veterans.
“Since we cannot hold large, in-person gatherings because of COVID,” said Dobbs, who also serves as the chapter’s vice president, “we thought, let’s try a drive-thru, as a way to get the community involved in supporting our veterans.”
On a Sunday in November, Dobbs and the university’s SVA chapter partnered with local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1148 and the Call of the Canyon Café to host a drive-thru veterans breakfast, offering a free breakfast to area veterans and also an opportunity for the group to raise funds through voluntary donations to support the BGSU student veterans.
“The breakfast exceeded our expectations and was a successful effort, given the pandemic,” said Jason Graven, BGSU’s military program coordinator. “The event collected $1,022, which will go to the BGSU SVA so we can continue to support student veterans.”
According to the university’s Nontraditional and Military Services department, BGSU had nearly 700 military-affiliated students attending during the fall 2020 semester. More than 460 of those students are veterans or currently serving. “Our office provides military-affiliated students a place on campus that is just for them,” said Graven, noting programming and resources that include veterans peer tutoring, a peer support group, loaner laptops, and a student veteran lounge on campus that provides snacks and free coffee.
Though the SVA’s primary mission is to support student veterans, the team is also committed to supporting the local Bowling Green community. Around Halloween, the group hosted a drive-thru Trunk-or-Treat and food drive event where anyone who donated canned goods and non-perishable food products received bags of candy. The food donations were then provided to a local food pantry to assist in the increased needs of area residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SVA office recently partnered with the nonprofit Task Force 20, to build and ship hundreds of care packages to 180th Fighter Wing Airmen currently serving overseas.
Dobbs said she joined the SVA chapter in the spring of 2020 as a way to connect and support young students who are learning to balance student and military life, for those currently serving, as well as nontraditional students who have made the transition back into civilian life following their military commitment.
“I like the idea of connecting with others who have served and those currently serving,” Dobbs said. “It’s all about the comradery. It’s great to have fellow veterans who can listen and easily understand. I also love sharing opportunities with fellow student veterans. There are a lot of benefits and opportunities within the SVA.”