PULLMAN, Wash. — The ASWSU Veterans Affairs Committee at Washington State University will host an open forum at 5 p.m. Nov. 12 for all veterans, reservists, national guardsmen and ROTC cadets. The event is set for the Compton Union Building, Room B11.

All topics relating to veterans will be open for discussion at the forum, including the Soldier and Sailor Civil Relief Act, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act and WSU’s excused absence policy.

“Veterans Affairs is a liaison between veterans and the university,” said Paul Rousseau, the committee’s chairman. “We are here to help veterans with finances, housing and adjusting to life out of the military. We also inform veterans of their rights.”

Currently, WSU’s academic regulations don’t list military service, either active or reserve, as a legitimate absence. Rule 73 of the university’s academic regulations excuses students for “illness, personal crises, mandated court appearances, parental responsibilities and the like.”

Rousseau would like the university to add military service to the list of excused absences.

“My primary concern is for reservists and national guardsmen who must, from time to time, miss classes due to their weekend training obligations,” Rousseau said.

With the increasing possibility the United States may invade Iraq, reservists and National Guardsmen are on high alert for a call to active duty, the veterans committee chair said. “It is now more important than ever for soldiers to know their rights as outlined in the SSCRA and USERRA.”

The SSCRA allows interest rates on debts and loans to be capped during a period of active service and protects soldiers and their dependents from eviction during that time. Civil court proceeding can also be delayed until the soldier returns from active duty. The USERRA provides employment and reemployment rights to reservists and guardsmen. In short, no employer can penalize a soldier for entering into active duty, either under voluntary or involuntary circumstances, said Rousseau.

More than 1,000 veterans attend WSU, and the Veterans Affairs Committee represents them all in student government.
The open forum will also give those in attendance the opportunity to recommend services or programs that they would like to see the Veterans Affairs Committee adopt.