Her mission: Help fellow veterans
By Chase DiFeliciantonio | Student reporter
Anita Lumpkin’s college experience was a little different than most students’. But then again, most students don’t have to deal with three separate military deployments during their undergraduate and graduate careers.
Lumpkin, who served for 10 years in the Army Reserves before getting her master’s degree in higher education administration, brings a unique background to her post as coordinator of Loyola’s office of Military Veteran Student Services. Created in August 2014 and housed in the Sullivan Center, the office helps veterans make the successful transition from military service to college life—and beyond.
But that process, Lumpkin said, is easier said than done.
“There is no limit to the number of issues that we have to address every day,” Lumpkin said. “In one day I could get a request for admission and program information about Loyola from a service member transitioning from overseas. I could also meet students here that are having academic concerns or problems accessing their education or health benefits. I work to connect these students to the right resources, regardless of what their needs might be.”
Lumpkin works alongside student employees—who also have military backgrounds—to help fellow veterans deal with the challenges they face as college students.
“Military life is very structured regardless of what branch of service you are in,” Lumpkin said. “You spend 5-10 years in a highly structured organization and then enter higher education where you have a lot more freedom. It can be a very challenging situation.”
Veterans must deal with other issues as well. The average age of a veteran enrolled at Loyola is 28, Lumpkin said, which can make them feel like outsiders on a campus filled with younger students.
Veterans also deal with prevailing stereotypes of the shell-shocked warrior and are often asked prodding questions about their experiences in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to Lumpkin, one of the most difficult issues for veterans is the feeling of doing it all backward.
“In many cases, student veterans have done the work that they’re studying for already,” Lumpkin said. “For someone who served in the Army or Navy as an MP (military police), getting credentials to become a police officer can seem redundant and frustrating. It can feel backward from a civilian standpoint.”
Creating a new University office from the ground up was daunting, Lumpkin said. But the hard work was well worth it.
“To give back to students who have given so much of themselves to the world is the most rewarding thing,” she said.