BYU club raises awareness for student veteran resources

Joanna Distler, Hannah Childs, Robert C. Oaks, Brooke Tait and Andrew Cook pose at the PRSSA event. The group’s main focus is to raise awareness concerning student veterans. (Hannah Childs)

BYU PRSSA entered the race for the national Bateman Case Study Competition for the first time in six years. The campaign involved carrying out an actual media campaign and raising awareness on Student Veterans of America (SVA).

The BYU Bateman Team consisted of five communications students: Hannah Childs, Brooke Tait, Andrew Cook, Taylor Brown and Joann Distler.

BYU senior Hannah Childs said in the last month the team created a communications plan to raise awareness for student veterans because BYU doesn’t have an SVA program. The team passed out flyers, managed a social media site, conducted extensive research, hosted events through veterans week and stuck to a budget.

“We really have had to build from the ground up. Through doing this campaign, more resources are starting to appear,” Childs said.

Every year more than 75 teams from schools across the nation compete in the case study, according to the PRSSA website.

The website states that “it challenges teams of students to research, plan, implement and evaluate a public relations campaign for an actual client.”

One of the major events was the BYU Honor Utah Veterans Night. Former Four-Star General in the U.S. Air Force Robert C. Oaks recently came to Provo to advise veteran students on getting the resources they need for the transition between military life to life on campus.

“There are people who will help you prepare a professional, high-quality resume,” Oaks said. “The VA does a pretty good job at taking care of medical disabilities.”

Oaks also talked about the positivity of this year’s presidential election for veterans. He said every candidate is pushing for better service.

“I am optimistic that in the future there will be some increased opportunities and increased service for veterans from the veterans association,” Oaks said.

The Director of the University of Utah Veterans Support Center Roger L. Perkins also spoke to veterans about how SVA can be a place where people can go to have support on campus and feel understood.

He explained that the maturity level of veterans is naturally higher given the fact that the average age of a college veteran student is 33 versus the average age of other college students is 24.

“The veterans community is by far more traveled, more worldly, more culturally aware, than any other group of people on campus. What they have to talk about, brings them together on campus with a level of maturity that other students don’t have,” Perkins said.

BYU veteran and finance major Spencer Brady said when he applied to BYU he was disappointed that BYU didn’t have many veteran resources.

“I vowed to myself that if I got accepted to BYU that I would start an SVA chapter and make it happen. More than mentoring or counseling, vets need each other,” Brady said.

The campaign ends on March 15 and the judges will select three finalists to present their case to the sponsors.

Childs said this opportunity isn’t all about winning but giving back to the veterans who fight for this country.

“This is my last semester and I wanted to make a difference. It started out as a competition but my attitude has completely changed,” Childs said. “If BYU gets better with veterans, that is a bigger prize to me than winning this competition, because what we do will make a difference for thousands of people and not just five peoples’ resumes.

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