Ohio National Guard Airman Serves Veterans to Support University Student Veterans

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Beth Holliker
  • 180th Fighter Wing

“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 year, on November 11, American’s 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 Ohio National Guard’s 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, keeping American’s from attending large, in-person gatherings, forcing Dobbs and the student veterans involved in the university’s local 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-through, as a way to get the community involved in supporting our veterans.”

On Sunday, Nov. 8, Dobbs and the university’s SVA chapter partnered with local VFW Post 1148 and Bowling Green’s Call of the Canyon Café to host a drive-through veteran’s breakfast in an effort to raise funds to support the university’s student veterans.

“The breakfast exceeded our expectations and was a successful effort, given the pandemic,” said BGSU’s Military Program Coordinator, Jason Graven. “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 has nearly 700 military affiliated students attending the fall 2020 semester, of that, more than 460 of the students are veterans or currently serving.

“Our office provides military affiliated students a place on campus that is just for them,” said Graven. “We have a tutoring program that features veterans as tutors, a peer support program called P.A.V.E., Peer Advisors for Veterans Education, pairing first semester students with a student veteran who has been at BGSU for several semesters, to help with the service-to-student transition. We offer a laptop loan program, CaC readers for service members to access military websites and information when they cannot get to a military installation. We also have the William and Joan Downing Military and Veteran Center that has a lounge area with free snacks, coffee provided by Iron Bean Coffee Company, a TV, Xbox and more, for when students need a break.”

Though the SVAs primary mission is to support student veterans, the team is also committed to supporting the local community, throughout the City of Bowling Green. The group recently hosted a drive-through 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 the BG Christian Food Pantry to assist in the increased food needs from area residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SVA office recently partnered with another non-profit, Task Force 20, to build and ship hundreds of care packages to 180th Fighter Wing Airmen currently serving overseas.

Dobbs joined the SVA chapter in the spring of 2020 as a way to connect and support young students who are leaning 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,” said Dobbs. “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.”

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