Clay Dubberly, Editor in Chief
Overwatch, a club created to help support the U.S. military on Shenandoah University’s campus, is back on its feet and running, having held its first meeting since relaunch on March 16.
Overwatch President Andrew McDermott, a Navy veteran, describes the group as a “big family,” that everyone – not just veterans – can benefit from.
Some of the events which might be included in the future include laser tag in the quad, a zipline across campus, a water balloon fight and a “ruck march,” or a hike. “As long as it’s legal, we can do it,” McDermott says.
Anyone is welcome to join the club — veterans and civilians alike. For veterans, the intention is to help them transition back into society: “We help them slowly get back into the civilian community,” McDermott said, adding that it helps them “become a better and more productive citizen.”
Civilians, McDermott said, benefit by getting exposure to who veterans “actually are,” as well as being able to be engaged in an active support role on the team.
The group also plans to conduct suicide prevention and sexual assault victims advocate training.
Overwatch aims to bring awareness and assist veterans with issues such as homeless or joblessness; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that roughly 47,725 veterans are living on the streets.
In 2010, approximately 12,700 veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) were homeless.
Factors that contribute to veteran homelessness include “extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income and access to health care,” according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
Veteran suicide is also a major issue, one that Overwatch intends to help. In 2012, the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) estimated that 22 veterans commit suicide each day.
However, that number was extrapolated from data from 1999-2011 and 21 states. Four states with high veteran populations were not accounted for in the data — California, Texas, Arizona and North Carolina, which means the number may be higher.
Overwatch is also holding workouts each week to help build camaraderie as well as help students get into shape. The workouts, which combine cardiovascular training with other workouts to help build endurance, start in Aikens field behind Parker Hall and are on Mondays at 4:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. and Friday at 4:00 p.m.
“It’s a big family. It’s your brothers and sisters. It’s people who know that they have your back if you need. The more numbers that we have, the more we can do. The more change we can make,” McDermott said.
Feature photo courtesy of Andrew McDermott