As the number of veterans within Mason’s student population increases, it isn’t surprising that the number of veterans’ student organizations has also increased. One such organization is the student-run Veterans Society of George Mason University.
Do student veterans seek each other out? You bet they do, says Veterans Society president and former Marine Jacobo Flores.
“It is always nice to be with others who have ‘been there,’” says Flores, who is majoring in civil, environmental, and infrastructure engineering. Flores gets help running the campus society from Michael Lillie, who served in the Army and then the National Guard, and former Marine Sam Steiner, who is majoring in electrical engineering.
The main mission of the society is to provide a social group and professional support structure to help veterans adjust to and become successful in civilian and college life.
The society organizes social activities for the Mason veteran population to connect not only on campus with fellow student veterans, but also with local veterans’ groups. Veterans from such nearby organizations as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion also interact with the society. Flores currently serves as senior vice commander of VFW Post 8469 in Fairfax Station, which makes the ties to that group particularly strong.
Some of the group’s activities are purely for social purposes, such as gathering to shoot pool at Hard Times Café in Fairfax City, but other activities are helping them build a scholarship endowment.
“We are halfway there,” Flores says of the society’s work to create $25,000 endowment that would provide scholarship support to deserving veterans on campus.
In February, the Veterans Society held its first Monte Carlo Night at the American Legion Post in Fairfax. Along with the society’s financial committee, Mason alumni Joshua Lawton-Belous, BA History ’10, and Susan Grossman, MPA ’11, helped organize the event, which brought together more than 50 people and helped the group close in on its fund-raising goal.
The society is also sponsoring its fourth annual 5K run/walk this spring. The 5K is scheduled for Saturday, April 23. Interested individual participants or groups can register on the society’s website at www.vetsoc.org.
To make gifts to the scholarship, go online to supportingmason.gmu.edu, click on “Give Now,” and designate the “Veterans Scholarship Endowment” in the “Other Established Fund” box, or send checks payable to GMU Foundation with Veterans Scholarship Endowment in the subject line to Intercollegiate Athletics, Attn: Dr. Butler, 4400 University Drive, MS 5EI, Fairfax, VA 22030.