MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU’s Center for Veteran, Military, and Family Programs has a new home — appropriately called “Mountaineer Bunker.”

Jerry Wood, the center director, said the support headquarters offers something new for students who are active duty, reserves, veterans, and family.

“We get involved with getting them set up so they can be successful students and move onto their ultimate purpose of finding meaningul employment and contributing to their communities,” Wood said on WAJR-Clarksburg’s “The Gary Bowden Show.”

The center is vital, Wood says, due to the nature of the lives many of these non-traditional students led before coming to WVU.

“When they come back to this college life, they are clearly a non-traditional student that brings with them a great deal of wisdom and life experience that is unique to the campus life,” he said. “That includes, too, their professors that often time just have no real understanding of what it’s like to go beyond and serve in a capacity that we are asked to serve in the military.”

The center provides certification services for Veterans, success coaching, on-site counseling, dedicated tutoring and study areas, a lounge and recreation area, a snack bar, and much more in an effort to give returning vets and their family members a space to call their own — whether in-between classes or not.

While counseling is an option, Wood said it’s worth remembering that veterans — whether dealing with mental illness or not — should not be stigmatized.

“We are no different than the rest of society,” he said. “Of course, we have unique challenges based on our experiences. But it’s not a broad brush way of looking at things when you consider all veterans as damaged goods.”

That said, Wood praised WVU’s efforts to come to the plate and continue to provide necessary services for veterans — including counseling at the Carruth Center.

Located in the Mountainlair, Mountaineer Bunker is the primary space for the center, though Wood said there are ancillary facilities on other campuses.

“There’s smaller rooms that are specifically geared towards our students, military, and their families to get away and have a place to go in between classes or to study or just to get with other veterans,” Wood said.

Mountaineer Bunker officially launched Friday, Dec. 7.

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