Living by the motto of â€œVeterans Helping Veterans,â€ the Veterans Resource Center at Western Nevada College has in its brief history shown a proclivity toward humanitarianism.
That good will has been recognized by the Nevada Department of Veterans Services, which named the Veterans Resource Center its Organization of the Year for work performed in suicide awareness and prevention.
â€œThis isnâ€™t so much personal recognition for us as it is about bringing awareness to veteran issues. Thatâ€™s why we are proud to accept it,â€ said Kevin Burns, the Veterans Resource Center coordinator.
To draw attention to the alarming national figure of 22 veterans committing suicide daily, the Veterans Resource Center coordinated a suicide awareness march in May. Nearly 250 community members participated in the 1.3-mile walk from North Carson Street and West College Parkway to the WNC campus. To conclude the march, 8,030 flags were planted in the ground at WNC to honor and remember the veterans who took their lives in the past year.
â€œThat number caught a lot of people by surprise,â€ Burns said. â€œThe fact that we put it out there and had a march, that got people interested in what is happening in the veterans community right now.â€
The resource center raised $1,000 from donations and T-shirts sales and donated the proceeds to the Northern Nevada Veterans Resource Center.
To help prevent suicide among veterans, the resource center sponsors SafeTALK and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training programs. SafeTALK helps others become aware when a veteran is contemplating suicide, and share the help available to him or her. ASIST is an intervention style of instruction that promotes what to do, how to react and how to reconnect veterans to life in order to return them to safety.
Burns said that all student workers in the Veterans Resource Center must receive training in a SafeTALK program.
For its work and assistance with veterans, WNC was among 250 community colleges and universities that President Barack Obama credited for making tremendous strides to meet the specific needs of present-day veterans during a 2014 national conference. Notably, WNC was recognized at the conference for its efforts in helping service members to transition from the military into higher education.
Accepting the award was, L-R: Tim Galuzzi, pre-admission advisor; student vet Marcela Reyes, student vet Arcardio Rivera; and Kevin Burns, Veterans Center Coordinator.