BY SARAH CURRAN
The University of South Florida’s new veterans lounge is a place where former service members can kick back and relax or get some studying done.
It’s tucked away in the John and Grace Allen building on the Tampa campus. The lounge boasts a flat screen TV and plenty of seating.
The walls are covered in murals featuring the various Armed Forces’ branches and a row of flags. There’s even a computer room and a study nook.
But student veteran Mark Hatch said it isn’t the amenities that will bring him back to the lounge.
“It’s nice to talk to everybody else about what experiences they went through, and what they are experiencing now in college. Things they have taken, courses.” Hatch said. “When you meet another veteran, you feel like you already know them. Where as, when you meet another student you kind of have to feel them out. With veterans it’s a click.”
Hatch said the decor invigorates patriotism.
And that’s what inspired The Birdies for the Brave Foundation which donated funds so the vets could have a place to hang out.
The University of South Florida is designated as a “veteran friendly” college for its efforts to reach out to former and active duty service members as well as providing information and a liason to the local VA office.
There are also several Pat Tillman scholars on campus and an active Student Veterans Association.