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USF unveils new center for student veterans

USFs 1,700 student veterans have a new place to call home.

The university unveiled its Veterans Achievement Center, located in the John and Grace Allen Building on Thursday. The 3,000-square-foot center features a computer lab, counseling rooms and services,a kitchen, a lounge and a 60-inch flat screen TV. The walls are adorned with historical military murals.

The biggest part of all, I believe, is for (veterans) to talk to one another and to get connected, because everybody wants to belong and everybody has their affinity groups, USF President Judy Genshaft said during the centers opening ceremony.

Genshaft touted USF for being ranked as one of the top five most veteran-friendly schools in the nation, according to Military Times Edge magazine.

Larry Braue, director of the Office of Veterans Services, said he has been working on the centers creation for about two years.

This place, that our veterans can go and be themselves, is something that is irreplaceable, he said during the ceremony. We said, when we got here, one of the first things we needed was in this room.

Student veterans said they agree.

Its a place for us to come together, Fitawrari Mangasha, a senior majoring in information systems management, said. I think we are a part of a unique brotherhood that we can all relate to. Sometimes, we feel more closely connected to those fellow people who served. Its a good way for us to identify each other and mingle and connect with each other.

Stephen Naylor, a senior majoring in history, said the center is like an oasis of calm.

Its an opportunity for us to step back a little when things are a little crazy and reconnect with each other, Naylor said. Its also a great opportunity for those of us new to the university to meet people with similar experiences.

But most importantly, he said, Its a place to make us feel at home.

The center was partially funded by Birdies for the Brave, a charitable part of the PGA Tour, which serves members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and Iron Order Motorcycle Club, which provided funds for the centers TV.