Student Veterans Association benefits military and community

Student Veterans Association benefits military and community

The Hilltop Student Veterans Association, HSVA, is starting the semester with service and unification in mind as they attempt to break down the barriers that often separate students from former and current service members.

“Students always have these misconceptions of vets when they first see them in their classrooms,” said Chris Garcia, head advisor for the HSVA and assistant to the Veterans’ Association on the St. Edward’s University campus. “We want to break up those misconceptions and try to unify the student body around this idea of a larger community.”

HSVA will primarily be focusing on gaining new members in order to make a team for the upcoming Tough Mudder event, held on April 20-21 to benefit American veterans.

Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile mud-filled obstacle course that includes over 25 different obstacles from monkey bars to the dreaded “Mt. Everest,” the final and most difficult challenge, according to Chase Younger, vice president of HSVA.

Younger and Garcia both feel that by getting a team together and participating in the Tough Mudder, the HSVA will be able to finally show off the benefits of an organization that few realized even existed.

“The Hilltop Student Veteran’s Association has actually been around since about early 2010, but so few people ever did anything to get the group active that nobody even knew it was a thing,” Younger said.

It was not until about last semester that the group really got moving, Younger said.

“We realized that if we wanted to get seen on campus, we had to start doing things. So, we pulled out the calendar and started figuring out events to put on it,” Younger said.

Younger said the HSVA continued to change and revise the group’s constitution so as to better facilitate a community that fosters service while showing the social side of St. Edward’s veterans.

“I’ll have people come up to me and ask me why I’m always so serious in class,” Younger said. “I guess because we’re in the military people assume we’re really high-strung, but we’re actually a pretty laid back group.”

The HSVA wants to integrate more non-veteran and non-serving students into their organization by holding movie nights and doing service projects with the migrant students organization on campus.

“We don’t care if you aren’t a military veteran. We want everyone to join the HSVA,” Younger said.

The HSVA will next try to raise money to support the Austin Honor Flight chapter in its efforts to transport aging World War II veterans to the memorial in Washington, said Patricia Perry, advisor to the HSVA.

“We’re looking to do events that will both be exciting for … the Hilltop Student Veteran’s Association and benefit the soldiers overseas by generating revenue that will then be donated,” Perry said. 

Most of the service done by the HSVA consists of adopting military units currently fighting overseas and giving them gifts on holidays or letters from students, Garcia said.

The HSVA will hold its third meeting of the semester on March 1. The organization will discuss events such as the Tough Mudder and the blood drive sponsored by HSVA and the migrant students group.