Welcoming a new Military Services coordinator

The+UNI+Veterans+Association+office+is+located+on+the+plaza+level+of+the+Union+and+is+open+to+any+veterans+or+veterans+family+members.
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Welcoming a new Military Services coordinator

The UNI Veterans Association office is located on the plaza level of the Union and is open to any veterans or veterans family members.

The UNI Veterans Association office is located on the plaza level of the Union and is open to any veterans or veterans family members.

GABRIELLE LEITNER

The UNI Veterans Association office is located on the plaza level of the Union and is open to any veterans or veterans family members.

GABRIELLE LEITNER

GABRIELLE LEITNER

The UNI Veterans Association office is located on the plaza level of the Union and is open to any veterans or veterans family members.

KELSEY CHIDLEY, Staff Writer

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This semester, the University of Northern Iowa welcomed a new Coordinator for Military and Veteran Student Services, Chiquita Loveless.

“In this office, we don’t carry our rank on our sleeves anymore, but we still carry the same bond, loyalty and integrity that was instilled in us when we served,” Loveless said. “As a coordinator, I’m a listening ear and a resource provider to help the veterans make it through school and also help them prepare for success in their future.”

Loveless is from Chicago and served in the US Navy for 22 years, where she reached the highest position of the enlisted ranks and retired as a chief warrant officer. She then moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she managed a call center that specifically employs veterans. She became its director of sales before relocating to Waterloo.

“As I was job-hunting, this position at UNI opened up,” Loveless said. “I read the position, and I told my husband, ‘This is the job for me. This is my job.’”

Loveless provides support to the military members and veterans on UNI’s campus by advising work-study programs, helping them adjust to college and connecting them to other students with similar experiences. She emphasized that her office in Maucker Union is a place where any military member or veteran, or any of their relatives, is always welcome to share their experiences with people who understand.

“I’m excited for growth. I’m excited to watch each one of the military members and veterans,” Loveless said. “At the end of this school year, I’m excited to watch the ones that are graduating. That’s success.”

Loveless also advises the University of Northern Iowa Veterans Association (UNIVA), a student-led organization that collaborates closely with Military and Veteran Student Services. The president of UNIVA is Cole Passick, a junior majoring in political science.

“Chiquita has definitely brought in new life to the office and changed the perspective of some of the people that are coming up here,” Passick said. “Now I think the new motto that’s kind of catching around the office is: you can’t drive a car looking in the rearview mirror.”

Passick, a Marine Corps veteran, said that getting involved in UNIVA has provided him the ability to connect with people who understand his experiences and has helped him get engaged on campus in a variety of leadership roles.

“I don’t have many Marine Corps buddies that live here, so it’s definitely a support group that you can lean on at certain times,” Passick said. “That’s something I didn’t have before.”

UNIVA and other organizations are organizing a PTSD conference to be held on March 28 in Maucker Union. According to Passick, the conference will feature speakers from a variety of backgrounds. The conference is open to all students and faculty — veterans or not — as well as members of the Cedar Valley community.

“[PTSD] is a hidden factor — it’s an unknown factor — that a lot of people just associate with one thing, and it shouldn’t be,” Passick said. “There’s a lot of people that need help with it, and they can’t get help if they don’t know they have the problem.”

Loveless and Passick also expressed the desire to inform the campus community that veteran services on campus are expanding to coordinate with a variety of other organizations.

“A lot of the things we’re fighting for are very similar issues, which is acceptance, more understanding and inclusion,” said Emily Harsch, LGBT* student services coordinator. “We end up doing a lot of very similar things, as well as collaborating, which is — I think — surprising to a lot of people.”

UNIVA and the LGBT* Center hold an annual LGBT Military Trivia Night, as well as collaborating on a PTSD conference and a variety of other events throughout the year. 

“Chiquita just has a really great energy to bring to this space,” Harsch said. “She’s so knowledgeable about what the students need. She’s already put her full heart into the position.”

On Feb. 16, UNIVA and Military and Veteran Student Services will also hold a veteran-oriented bowling night at Maple Lanes in Waterloo. The event is aimed at connecting military members and veterans at UNI.

When asked what Loveless likes about her job, Loveless was quick to correct.

“What I love about the job? Not like. I love my job,” Loveless said. “I would like to make everyone aware that the door is open, and that they’re welcome to come in and just sit for a spell, or just come in and say hi. And I do want to say this: the veterans and military students are on the move. We are coming.”

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