Green Zone training aims to expand inclusivity to student veterans on campus

“A green zone is a physical location in Baghdad that was considered a safe zone,” said Brian Locke, the director of G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s veterans at Mississippi State University. “That is where the green zone training name came from.”

Marshall University’s director of Military and Veteran Affairs Johnathan McCormick, along with Locke trained volunteers on Wednesday to assist them in helping veterans on campus.

“It’s a great opportunity to make our students and faculty aware of our student veteran population and some of the problems they face,” McCormick said.

McCormick worked for the university for a year but has been in the military for much longer.

“I planned to spend my whole life in the military, and when it was cut short, I was wandering around without a sense of purpose,” McCormick said. “So, when this position opened up to help veterans through some of the struggles I faced, it was a no-brainer.”

Guest speaker Locke, who has been in the military for 26 years, discussed what the green zone volunteers provided for the student veterans on campus and some of the possible obstacles.

“As a volunteer, you provide someone the veterans can talk to and someone who can direct them if they aren’t sure what to do,” Locke said.

Locke said veterans have to develop a “new normal” when they come back from overseas and college complicates that further.

“Sometimes they get overwhelmed with projects and tests, along with adjusting to being home, paying a mortgage and being with their families,” Locke said.

Locke spoke about the mental issues some veterans face which can cause complications.

“They come back and can have PTSD, or have faced military sexual trauma or even a traumatic brain injury,” Locke said.

McCormick said the most important part is not only making students and faculty aware of the veteran population but also make the veterans aware of all the resources available.

Along with the Office of Military and Veteran Affairs, there is a behavioral clinic, student advocate office and VA certification specialist.

McCormick said they plan to have two green zone trainings in the fall, which are free.

“We are creating allies for our student veterans; there are now 14 more people with stickers on their doors that say hey I’m here to help you,” McCormick said.

Michaela Crittenden can be contacted at [email protected].