Group launched GoFundME for veterans lounge


Junior criminology and justice studies major Ryan Lewand stands in the Student Center on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. Lewland was a petty officer, second class in the Navy and he served a total of two years in Bahrain.

Samantha Meisenburg

The president of the Kent State Veterans Club has started a GoFundMe campaign to build an accessible veterans lounge on campus.

“We need a place on campus to hold meetings, plan events and give veterans a place to study and work,” said Ryan Lewand, president of the Veterans Club and a senior criminology and justices studies major.    

The Veterans Club serves as a safe place for student veterans to feel welcomed as they transition and adjust to student life.

“The Veterans Club on campus has been having some difficulty with growing and getting new members because of off-campus meetings,” Lewand said. “I felt that it is a necessity for veterans on campus to have somewhere to connect with each other and gain new members.”

Dawn Plug, assistant director of the Center for Adult and Veteran Services and club adviser for the Veterans Club, thinks the campaign for a lounge is a great idea. 

“The veterans need a place on campus to be with other students that have similar experiences,” Plug said.

Lewand and Plug both agree that the location of the lounge should be close to the Schwartz Center or the Student Center.

“Most of the members tend to be commuters, so parking is always an issue … location matters a good deal,” Plug said.  

Lewand wants to raise $200,000 to build the lounge and receive a portion of the funds to make a proposal to the university by the end of the semester. He hopes to have it approved by the end of the year.

If the university denies Lewand’s proposal or the GoFundMe does not reach its goal of $200,000, he will donate the money to the AMVETS National Service Foundation.

Lewand, who served four years of active duty in the Navy and is currently in the Navy Reserves, said the main reason he started the GoFundMe campaign was because of Kent State’s military history.

“It’s rated one of the top Military Friendly Schools and to me, if they are going to keep that spirit of being one of the top military friendly schools, I feel that they should be on board with a veterans lounge,” Lewand said. 

The Veteran’s Club was founded in 1944 and is open to anyone who wants to join, accepting service members and all veterans. To hold office and vote, it is required to be a veteran. Veterans must make up 75 percent of the club.

The Veterans Club meets every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kent. Meetings on the second Wednesday of every month are at 5 p.m. at Quaker Steak & Lube on campus.