Bulls Notebook: USFSM Students take veterans’ issues to heart

An honor guard carries the national and Florida flags through the rotunda.

An honor guard carries the national and Florida flags through the rotunda.

SARASOTA, Fla. (Oct. 23, 2015) – Greater support for veterans’ issues is spurring membership gains for USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Student Veterans Society (SVS), Veterans Services Administrator Todd Hughes says.

Hughes says membership has more than tripled since 2012 when about 20 belonged to the group, which holds events and raises money for veterans’ causes.

“I think students are just more aware and there’s more interest in supporting veterans’ issues, what they can do to help with recovery and reintegration (into society),” Hughes, an Army veteran and advisor to the student-run group, said.

The revelation comes as Hughes and the SVS prepare to hold a USFSM Veterans Appreciation Day at the campus’ rotunda and courtyard on Nov. 5 from noon to 7 p.m.

The event, which will begin with an honor guard flag-raising ceremony, will feature food from the Mexicali Border Café in Bradenton, a dog tag-making machine, MRE samples, a trivia contest and visits from local legislators.

Several veterans’ organizations including the VFW, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and Concerned Veterans for America will set up tables to hand-out brochures. Veteran service officers from Manatee and Sarasota counties will attend as well.

It’s difficult to say exactly how many USFSM students are veterans. About 130 student veterans take advantage of veterans’ benefits to attend the university, says Hughes. But he believes many more are enrolled who don’t access their educational benefits or whose benefits have lapsed.

One thing is for certain, support for veterans’ causes is growing among non-veteran students. Hughes said the SVC’s membership growth is a direct result of more non-veterans joining the group.

“We now have more non-veteran students than veteran students, and that’s because of the support for veterans’ causes,” he said.

Many more housing options for Boomers

Author and journalist Beth Baker says many more housing options await Baby Boomers as they enter retirement.

The author of “With a Little Help from Our Friends: Creating Community as We Grow Older,” told about 100 audience members Tuesday at USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Selby Auditorium that she found numerous examples of creative housing choices for the newest generation of retirees, from house-sharing to small artist-like communities.

Despite the varied living arrangements, she said she encountered themes of unity, cooperation and neighbors helping neighbors as she crisscrossed the country researching her book, published last year.

In Texas, she interviewed a group of RV owners who created their own community. The only rule was they needed to be able to get from their RVs to the centrally located recreation center.

“It didn’t matter how you got there – you could be in wheel chair,” Baker said.

Other housing examples ran from friends living together sharing mortgage payments as they looked out for one another to communities of like-minded individuals, like artist colonies.

Dr. Kathy Black, a professor of social work and gerontology at USFSM, said, “Beth Baker’s book is a reminder to all of us about the importance of planning ahead for our own longevity by considering what is important to us as we age and how to create that supportive living arrangement that allows us to live as fully as possible, and by also recognizing the limits of our own autonomy and that needing others, and in turn being there for others, is what matters most to all of us as we age.”

More kudos for USF Sarasota-Manatee as its turns 40

USF Sarasota-Manatee is set to receive a special honor before the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s 95th Annual Membership Meeting & Luncheon gets underway next Tuesday.

Just prior to the 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. event at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, USFSM is set to receive a Gold Certificate in recognition of its 40th anniversary this academic year.

The chamber presentation will be followed by a photo opportunity involving chamber leaders and local officials.