Belmont is the only university in the Ohio Valley Conference that does not have a designated on-campus location for veterans to meet and Ron Georgette is determined to change that.
Since becoming president of the Bruin Vets last year, Georgette has been advocating for the veterans and setting goals for the organization to raise awareness on campus.
“Getting the university to commit to us, having our own space is probably the biggest goal,” Georgette said.
It is important for veterans to have their own room on campus to decompress, network and build community, he said.
Georgette is incredibly passionate about his fellow veterans and sees it as his responsibility to do everything in his power to make a difference for that community.
Veteran Affairs Education Counselor Linda Mullins also recognizes the importance of this mission and is quite optimistic that Belmont will grant the veterans a space.
“Everybody wants their space. We understand that and we respect that. We’re trying,” Mullins said. “Belmont’s building and changing and so we keep trying to put our names out there.”
The Bruin Vets organization was started three years ago by students.
“They felt that we needed some sort of representation. They needed some sort of organization to show that there are veterans here on campus,” said Mullins.
Mullins has been a strong advocate for the veterans and Bruin Vets since then.
She works closely with the veterans, helping them complete all the necessary paperwork to come back to school as well as serve as an adviser and counselor.
She particularly enjoys her work with Bruin Vets, providing Belmont veterans with the opportunity to connect with each other in a way they may not be able to connect with others.
“It’s really more about camaraderie than it is anything. It’s very hard for students to transition, or soldiers to transition from the military to college,” Mullins said. “A lot of times they don’t have as much in common with someone that’s right out of high school, because they’ve gone through so many different experiences that we haven’t.”
Last year, Mullins asked Georgette to step up as president of Bruin Vets. While he was not looking for any sort of leadership position at the time, he recognized the offer as an opportunity to speak out for his fellow veterans.
Since taking office, Georgette has proposed quite a few new activities and initiatives to help members of Bruin Vets make an impact on Belmont as well as the surrounding communities.
He plans to bring veterans from Belmont and Lipscomb University to the Bell Tower on Veterans Day this year, to honor the fallen from Tennessee.
He also plans to host a first annual Christmas dinner for veterans and their families.
Another important program Georgette wants to bring to Belmont is ROTC.
“There are several veterans here that really want to see their own ROTC program here. And there’s a lot of veterans that would volunteer their time to make something like that happen,” Georgette said.
As of now Belmont does not have its own ROTC program, but Georgette remains hopeful that it could happen in the future.
In the meantime, his priority is advocating for a space on campus for the veterans to meet.
One of the main reasons space for the Bruin Vets is so important to Georgette is the implication that veterans at other universities have more benefits.
Lipscomb was recently deemed one of the top five best colleges for veterans by U.S. News and World Report.
“How do you compete with that? You innovate, you change things. You listen to the veterans. You hold a committee. You do whatever it takes,” Georgette said.
That is exactly what he is trying to do.
“I feel compelled to do my duty and do the best I can by the veterans and to improve things for the veterans,” he said.
The future of Bruin Vets is full of possibility, and Mullins could not be more supportive.
“I just want them to continue to feel like they’re welcomed to come to Belmont and that they matter and that they’re valued. Their opinions matter. And I want faculty and staff to understand that it’s a big deal that they wanted to come to Belmont and not somewhere else,” she said.
This article was written by Emily Swan.