SIUE recently welcomed Telisha Reinhardt as the new Coordinator of Military and Veteran Services. Not only does Reinhardt have a background in higher education, she has also personally experienced the trials and triumphs of being a veteran.
“When we look at veterans, we always say ‘Thank you for your services.’ But do we really see the person and what they went through when they were deployed?” Reinhardt said. “I want to widen that lens here at SIUE and to provide resources and services to really help veterans through their academic success.”
Reinhardt takes an intersectional approach to her position, as she wants to address both the on and off campus concerns specific to female veterans, veterans of color and LGBTQ+ veterans.
Reinhardt said she feels like higher education institutions generally are not doing enough to address the issues facing veterans within these communities, and she wants to lead efforts to offer more resources to these veterans at SIUE.
“There is a lot of resources out there for veterans, but there are also a lot of gaps that have not been filled in higher education, and I really feel that SIUE has the resources and the potential and the want to want to fill those gaps and I want to be part of SIUE doing that and I really want you to know my goals in that position to really do that to address the concerns of women veterans, veterans of color, LTGBQ+ on campus and to address these concerns because these are real concerns outside of SIUE,” Reinhardt said.
While Reinhardt became coordinator just this month, she brings with her experience from the field. She is a U.S. Navy veteran who was stationed in Japan from 08-13. She worked in higher education before serving in the military, so she said she planned on returning after she served.
Once out of the military, she completed her education before starting in SIUE’s Transfer Center in 2019. She was in the Transfer Center for 14 months before she got this position as coordinator of Military and Veteran Services.
Reinhardt said she saw that this position was open so she took it because it spoke to her passion and community.
“I was like Yes, this will get me back connected with the veterans in the community!’ This is something I have always wanted to do and always had a passion for,” Reinhardt said.
Kevin Wathen, director of Military and Veteran Services, said he couldn’t be more excited to have Reinhardt on their team.
“She comes with passion and ideas about how to serve these populations, and this population comes with a lot of extra work; we are talking about GI bills, Illinois verteran grants, all of these different programs that we help them apply to and receive and also get them here on campus,” Wathen said.
Wathan said Reinhardt has already been a great addition to the team, as Reinhardt has done things other staff has not thought to do. She also has already started working on things like the new center at SIUE called the Military and Verteran Resource Center. Reinhardt said a large part of her job isbringing people into the center and making them feel comfortable and at home at SIUE.
Amanda Depew, a military veteran attending SIUE, said she thinks Reinhardt has been doing a good job in her new role so far and looks forward to seeing what else she will do for veterans on campus. “She is an amazing ambassador for our student veterans and she just hit the ground running and I am excited that she is going to be at the helm putting this together,” Depew said.
For more information on Telisha Reinhardt and the SIUE Military and Verteran Services, visit their website.