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FSU Vet Service Center Expands

February 8th, 2017 by WCBC Radio

For the second time in as many years, Frostburg State University’s military service members and veteran students have a new Veterans Service Center to call home, now at 150 Park Ave. in Frostburg. With more than 500 additional square feet of space and a segmented floor plan, the new center expands and improves services for FSU’s nearly 200 veterans, military-connected service members and dependents.

Frostburg’s veteran students have already taken ownership of their new space, according to Danielle Dabrowski, FSU’s director of Veterans Services.

“The only way to do that is to let them make it a space they can fit into, not to make it what I feel it should be,” she said. “This group of students is just amazing because when you want to get it done, it’ll be done.”

Some of those students came in before the semester began to set up the new center, moving and unpacking during a snowy weekend. Dabrowski and the veterans are planning a ceremonial grand opening for the fall semester, but the new space has already proven popular.

“They are loving it,” said Dabrowski. “It makes them feel like a valued part of FSU. It’s going to keep them here and keep them engaged.”

Many student veterans relax more easily in the company of fellow veterans and service members.

“They just feel comfortable, and that’s half the battle,” she said. “They have to feel comfortable where they are.”

Particularly for commuter students, a comfortable space helps keep them engaged with their studies. With the new center’s layout, FSU’s veterans can also be more productive there.

“Before, people couldn’t really have meetings or study, because the conference room was the lounge, the computer room – it was all one space,” Dabrowski said.

The new computer lab features LockDown Browser, allowing students to take online exams. A separate lounge area provides room to unwind without distracting others from studying. A conference room, which the veterans have dubbed the “Situation Room,” has space to plan future events and projects. The center features a small kitchen, and a shower stall will soon be installed.

Veterans Affairs work-study students also have dedicated office spaces, which allows Dabrowski to offer a critical service onsite: hosting a V.A. counselor each week.

“What most people don’t realize is we have tripled our vocational rehabilitation population of students, which usually require weekly trips to the V.A. in Martinsburg,” she said. “That’s a service we can provide so these guys aren’t burning up a full day driving. The other space didn’t have the privacy they require for that.”

Frostburg’s weekly veterans writing workshop, coordinated by FSU’s Center for Literary Arts, will also begin meeting in the new Veterans Services Center on Tuesday afternoons.

Dabrowski thanked Frostburg’s administrators for their support of her efforts, particularly Dr. Tom Bowling, vice president for Student Affairs, and her supervisor, Dr. Jeff Graham, assistant vice president for Student Affairs. From speaking with her counterparts at other universities, she realizes how uncommon that support can be.

“I’m glad FSU dedicates the resources to make my job easier,” Dabrowski said. “Where the support is not there, it really takes a toll on people’s effectiveness. The leadership here at Frostburg is just amazing – I have the best job on campus!”

Frostburg’s size, Dabrowski added, is also a key factor in successfully supporting the students she serves.

“I would lose sight of why I do my job at a bigger institution,” she said. “Any of the veterans who walk in here, even the dependents, I know their names. You have to have that human connection.”

Last November, FSU was named for the sixth consecutive year to the Military Friendly® Schools list by Victory Media, which serves military personnel transitioning into civilian life.

For more information about services to military and veteran students and their dependents at FSU, contact the FSU Veterans Services Office at 301-687-0131 or VAoffice@frostburg.edu.

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