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LVO brings veterans together

Eric Matthews, LU Veteran Affairs military and service specialist, cooks lunch for the 4th annual Veterans Appreciation Cookout at the Dining Hall Lawn, Wednesday. UP photo by Cade Smith
Eric Matthews, LU Veteran Affairs military and service
specialist, cooks lunch for the 4th annual Veterans Appreciation Cookout
at the Dining Hall Lawn, Wednesday. UP photo by Cade Smith

The Lamar Veterans Organization is dedicated to helping veteran students have a place where they can learn how to transition from military life to civilian life.

“We want to bring them together and provide a family environment that they felt when they were enlisted in the military,” Ramie Dalton, LVO president said. “We want to have a place where veterans can understand each other and bring unity between them.”

After two years of being on hiatus, Dalton and LVO vice president, Nicolas DeVillier, were approached by Katt Blackwell Starnes assistant professor of English, to revive the group.

“I went to Dr. Starnes in the English department to get her opinion on an essay I was writing about veterans transitioning into college,” DeVillier said.“She knew I was a veteran and asked if I’d be willing to help her restart the organization. I told her I would love to do it. This semester I got to meet Ramie and we really kicked things off and kind of hit the ground running ever since.”

Dalton said that the organization wants to help veterans get maximum benefit for their education.

“One of the things we are trying to work on is having (workshops) for veterans,” she said. “We want to bring the VA guys over and give a walkthrough of how to apply for certain education benefits. Whenever I went in I had the Montgomery GI bill — I paid into it for the first 12 months of my service. After that, they offered the post 9/11 GI bill, so I signed up for that and qualified. When I got back, they asked which one to use and I didn’t have any idea and still don’t know if I paid into the right one.”

The organization also wants to help dependents who are trying to use their family’s military benefits, Dalton said.

“With dependents, one of the girls I work with at the writing lab, her parents have been paying for her college,” she said. “I spoke with her and found out that her dad was a veteran and asked if she was using his GI bill. She said that he had already used it and I told her about the Hazelwood (Act) to help her pay for school.”

DeVillier and Dalton said it was difficult transitioning from military life to civilian life.

“When you come here to civilian life you have so much freedom to do whatever you want,” DeVillier said. “When you go to a special event in the military, you must wear dress blues, they must be a certain way. You must wear it the way they want you to. There’s rules and regulations that you must follow.”

Dalton said she struggled with wearing civilian clothes.

“Another thing that was difficult for me was waking up every day, because I was so used to waking up when they wanted us to,” she said.

The organization is affiliated with the Student Veterans of America which offers scholarships and has an honors society, Dalton said.

“To be an official member, you must be a veteran to be able to receive those benefits,” she said.“You can’t even be a dependent to qualify, you must be a veteran. Of course, people can come to our monthly socials but as far as our veterans events go, we try to include just veterans.”

DeVillier said that the organization is made up of mostly army veterans but welcomes all branches.

“We also welcome allies to join us,” he said. “However, we want people to know that they may get offended at some of the things we say and talk about. Something to be mindful of is that some people might not understand things we talk about because they weren’t in the military. It’s like another language.”

DeVillier and Dalton said the organization is hosting events to recruit new members.

“On Nov. 16, (tomorrow) we will have our monthly social, so we encourage anyone to come to that if they wish.

“Something else we are doing is having a cork board where members or people with veterans in their family can come up and put a picture on the board,” Dalton said. “We want to recognize those who have served our country.”

For more information email Dalton,, or contact DeVillier at

Story by Cade Smith, UP staff writer

Category: Features