Bruin Vets is an organization designed to develop community for student veterans and military-affiliated Belmont students, with a mission of empowering veterans to use their unique military experience to benefit others through proactive student-to-student mentorship, leadership, service and off campus outreach opportunities.
With an increasing population of military affiliated students and student veterans finding their way to Belmont each year, the Veteran Success Team and Bruin Vets Center provide resources and support including assistance for food insecure students, counseling services and veteran-specific programming.
The Bruin Vets Center on the third floor of Fidelity, room 301, is a designated place on Belmont’s campus where student veterans and military-affiliated students find camaraderie and friendship amongst fellow veterans. Students get connected to the support they need for a successful transition from military to civilian and campus life in the Veteran Success Team Office in Fidelity 204.
Senior music business major Jacob Hicks is the president of Bruin Vets. Ater ten years with the United States Air Force, he decided to pursue his passion for music. A music seminar advertised on Facebook led Hicks to Texas where he gained advice from the wife and then-manager of Texas country musician Casey Donahew.
“I had no idea what there was to do in the music industry besides being in a band because it wasn’t something that I was exposed to,” Hicks said. “She told me, ‘Well, you could always go to Nashville and get an internship.”
Hicks learned about Belmont’s music business degree and started the program in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which made connecting as a non-traditional student veteran difficult.
“Everything was shut down when I moved here,” Hicks said. “Most of the classes were online. My first two semesters I was on campus less than 2-3 hours a week. It was hard meeting people.”
Hicks eventually acclimated to student life and found community by getting involved in Bruin Vets. He has since helped increase the Bruin Vets community after veteran attendance and involvement lessened during the pandemic.
“Once COVID was over, the veteran community that had been here before had all graduated,” Veteran Success Team member Jennifer Kiev said. “Jacob has been phenomenal at building the community and letting other veterans and dependents of military families know about the Bruin Vets Center.”
Bruin Vets will host a fundraiser open to the public on Thursday, Nov. 10 at Grain & Berry in Hillsboro Village from 5:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. It will be a chance for non-military affiliated students at Belmont to connect with veteran members. Staff, faculty and students are encouraged to come spend time with the Bruin Vets and work to bridge a social gap.
“We’re trying to get anybody and everybody to show up,” Hicks said. “Come learn about a world that you haven’t experienced. The things that we vets are used to aren’t the things that other students are used to. There isn’t much of a middle ground. If you want to find a middle ground, then come to the fundraiser.”
Patrons will receive a ten percent discount when you say you’re with Bruin Vets and a fifteen percent discount will go to members of Bruin Vets. Online orders will receive a discount by using the code “Officially BruinVet.”