Brendan Pillsbury, UW-Superior VNSC Coordinator
Photo by Rachel Prost
The University of Wisconsin-Superior has been ranked a Military Friendly® School for 12 consecutive years and made the Best for Vets ranking list for eight straight years. With around 100 veteran students studying at UWS under GI Bill benefits and 300-400 students with military affiliation, the Veterans and Nontraditional Student Center (VNSC) is a place where students can access resources, build community, or study.
Throughout November 7-12, the VNSC hosted Veterans Week. In honor of Veterans Day 2021, the VNSC will hold a ceremony on November 12th from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Yellowjacket Union Atrium. This event is open to the public and will include the presentation of colors, national anthem and performance by the Chi Waagimin Bay Singers. Additionally, UW-Superior Chancellor Renee Wachter will give a welcome address and followed by a guest speech by Eric Hudson of the Douglas County Veterans Service Office. Finally, there will be a presentation of the Henry Blomberg Excellence in Service Awards.
“For the ceremony, we want to bring attention to the veterans we have in our community. We want to thank them for their service and honor the ones that have gone above and beyond to serve our community,” said Brendan Pillsbury, the VNSC Coordinator. Following the ceremony is a veteran’s questions and answers panel to shed some light on what life is like as a student veteran and remove the stigma.
Pillsbury, a Baraboo, Wisconsin native, became the VNSC Coordinator in April 2021. He spent eight years in the army reserves and did one tour in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011. The veteran’s passion for the outdoors and interacting with others led him to study outdoor education at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) and become a National Park Ranger at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
Pillsbury’s former UMD college advisor, now TriO SSS Director Danny Frank, recommended the VNSC coordinator position to him. “I thought this [position] would be the perfect opportunity to give back to veterans and nontraditional students and use the information I learned while going to college under the GI bill,” said Pillsbury.
The VNSC creates a social and community space in Old Main 118. They host game nights, bowling, paintball, and other activities throughout the year to help create connections between students. Campus resources and community partners offer workshops, so students know where to go or reach out if they need help. The VNSC also offers a three-credit interdisciplinary course covering different social theories of veterans transitioning to life as a student. Additionally, the VNSC offers its programs in a hybrid format to support veterans who are distance learning students.
Another service the VNSC offers is a childcare subsidy. “College is an extremely expensive venture…Although we cannot afford to cover the entire cost of childcare, we try and relieve some of that burden by providing [students] with some financial assistance,” said Pillsbury. To apply for the childcare subsidy, please visit the VNSC website.
Students and faculty can also donate textbooks to the VNSC textbook library. All students can check out textbooks, but veteran and nontraditional students may check out a textbook for the entire semester. To browse the selection of available textbooks, please visit vnsctextbooks.librarika.com.
This upcoming holiday season, the VNSC offers the Giving Tree program. Student parents can apply to the program to receive help purchasing gifts for the holidays for their children. Contact the VNSC at firstname.lastname@example.org for an application.
Surveys coupled with dialogue with veteran students when they come to the VNSC allow the campus to uphold its veteran-friendly status. “We’re reevaluating our programs and seeing the ones that are effective and ones with little effect. We’re always looking for alternatives,” said Pillsbury. The VNSC strives to recognize and bring awareness to student veterans not only on Veterans Day but throughout the year. For more information about the VNSC, please contact email@example.com.