By: Jacob Murphey | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 22, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- As Florida State welcomes a record-breaking freshman class to campus this week, a special group of newcomers gathered Thursday night to connect over stories of service.
The FSU Veterans Center hosted its annual welcome party for student veterans. It's a chance for new students like Cameron Bickley to make invaluable connections.
"It's like information overload," he said. It's a familiar reaction to any college freshman. But at this welcome party, Bickley knew he'd immediately have something to share.
"We just talked about the process of getting out of the military and how that process is different in other branches as opposed to my experience," he said.
FSU Veteran Center Director Billy Francis loves meeting these veterans. A veteran himself, Francis has served as director since the center's creation in 2011.
He knows veterans bring a different resume to campus.
"Veterans have had to do some things that are challenging, Francis said. "Some of them, very very challenging."
Francis said FSU has about 400 on-campus student veterans. He's quick to note a rapid improvement in the veteran graduation rate.
It's up to 86%. Compare that to 69% just 11 years ago.
He believes social events like the welcome party tell veterans they're not alone. They're part of a family ready to help them undertake a new journey.