GoDaddy’s Parsons Funds New Veterans Initiatives
Nov. 11, 2013, marked perhaps the most memorable and widespread Veterans Day celebration in recent history at UB. The campus community honored UB’s military students, faculty, staff and alumni with not only “I love UB vets” pins and thank-you banners but also the grand opening of the University’s first-ever veterans center, courtesy of a $1 million gift from Bob Parsons, B.S. ’75, D.H.L. ’08, GoDaddy founder and board member.
The Baltimore native and Vietnam veteran visited campus for the festivities and shared with the standing-room-only crowd his vision for the new facility: “[The Bob Parsons Veterans Center] will be a special and nurturing haven for veterans, to help them reintegrate back into civilian life and enter our education system so they can be the success that they deserve to be.”
That transition from soldier to civilian is often difficult, says Anthony Moll, the University’s coordinator of military and veteran student services. His knowledge comes firsthand: Moll joined the U.S. Army at 18 and traveled the globe for eight years of active duty before settling in Maryland in 2007. “Military life has its own language and values, which [are] different from the language and values of civilian life,” he says. “It’s rough going from living like a superhero to ordinary, everyday life.”
The center offers counseling and career advising and allows UB’s approximately 300 military and veteran students to connect with each other. Although veterans centers are a growing trend at universities across the country, Moll says UB’s center stands apart because it offers a dedicated space for military and veteran students (a seven-room suite in the Academic Center) and a five-person staff.
In addition to the center, Parsons’ gift funds two forthcoming veteran-oriented initiatives: The Bob Parsons Veterans Psychology Clinic and The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic.
In cooperation with the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences, The Bob Parsons Veterans Psychology Clinic will be dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and research of post-traumatic stress disorder, brain trauma and other mental-health issues that often affect veterans.
The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic will open this fall under the leadership of U.S. Air Force Maj. Hugh McClean, who—until he begins his position at UB—serves as special counsel in the Air Force’s Office of the General Counsel at the Pentagon. As part of this joint venture between The Bob Parsons Veterans Center and UB’s Clinical Law Offices, student attorneys will provide counsel specifically tailored to veterans’ legal concerns, such as disability benefits and discharge upgrades. The clinic also will tackle law reform in this arena.
Moll hopes this holistic approach to addressing the needs of military and veteran students can become a national model and will help establish UB “ ... as the type of military-friendly institution that [these] students flock to and one [in which] they succeed.”