DANVERS — North Shore Community College dedicated a new veterans center at its Ferncroft Road campus yesterday, giving returning veterans their own “bunker,” a safe space that they can call their own.
The center, with its couches, lockers, conference room, computer workstations, laptops and snacks will be a place where student veterans and military members can study, relax, figure out which courses they need to take or just connect with others as they parachute from the military, to school to the work place.
In cutting a ribbon to the new center, in the math and sciences building, the community college created a space that interim college President Janice Forsstrom said shows the school’s long commitment to high-quality services and programs for student veterans and military service members. The college has 350 veterans and military members.
Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone, a former Marine Corps Reserve sergeant, said there’s a push to create similar veterans centers at the state’s 27 college campuses.
“This is a special place,” Malone said of efforts at NSCC, “this is not the norm.” He said the center and the college’s efforts will serve as models for the rest of the state’s higher education system, singling out efforts to serve veterans at Salem State University, as well.
“We know that when you come back, that brotherhood and sisterhood that we experienced out there, it doesn’t exist in the real world to the extent we are used to,” said Malone, the former Swampscott schools superintendent.
“So, we have to build that, because we know the reason we have been successful in our lives is because we have had a platoon, a fire team to fall back on. And when we build those bunkers in our individual campuses such as this, we know our student veterans will be much more apt to be successful, because they are going to have a place they call home,” Malone said.