When it comes to community service organizations on campus, Boston University sponsors a variety of programs dedicated to helping vulnerable communities. However, students say one population has often been overlooked — veterans.
One in five Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans experience post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression and only half seek medical health treatment, according to a study by the RAND Corporation.
A group of students decided to found a club called Boston University Veteran Assist to address the lack of resources for veterans in the Greater Boston community.
“Our focus is within the Boston area but we aren’t limited to the Boston area,” club president Madeline Ma, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said. “We basically volunteer to help homeless, disabled, low-income veterans who need help, especially because they don’t receive the resources that they need after returning from war.”
Yane Kim, CAS junior and vice president of Veteran Assist, said her Korean heritage sparked her passion for helping veterans from the Korean War.
“I’ve always had a passion to help them,” Kim said. “I thought this would be a great opportunity to meet them and tell them about how Korea is doing right now because they probably haven’t visited.”
Ma said most of the club’s activities will be focused on building meaningful connections with veterans. Club members will be paired with a veteran to regularly visit with once a month.
“A lot of our events are going to be geared towards just keeping them company and also getting to know their stories because a lot of them aren’t able to tell their stories to anyone,” Ma said.
Janet Choi, secretary of Veteran Assist and junior in the College of Communication, said the club does more than simply help the veterans.
“It’s really such a precious experience to be able to bridge the gap between a college student who’s in their 20s, and a senior and an elder who might be in their 70s or 80s,” Choi said.
Choi said upcoming activities for the club will include fundraising and other efforts to reach out to veterans.
“I’m definitely excited for the fundraising aspect and the care packages that we’re making,” Choi said. “I’m really excited to see what we can specifically come up with and create to put in these care packages to assist our veterans.”
Kim said the club also aims to build bonds between members through various activities, such as making masks and delivering care packages to the veterans.
“We also want to make a community where we can help each other … and also my personal goal was to at least try to connect [club members’] major to some part of our activity and veterans,” Kim added. “So for [pre-med majors], we can ask them if we can check their temperatures, just because of their COVID situation.”
Ma said the club has around 25 members who come from diverse academic backgrounds, including graduate students, political science and public relations majors.
Choi added that veteran assistance is a learning experience “for anyone in college.”
“I can’t wait for all of the activities that we’re about to do,” Choi said. “Our e-board consists of very fun members.”