An Article by Christopher Royster
There are many organizations and clubs here at Holyoke Community College, giving the student body a myriad of options to choose from. Most of these clubs are well-known such as the Psych club, New Directions, Alana and many more. Unfortunately, when you ask around campus, “What is the Bunker?” the typical response is, “I really don’t know...ugh.” Ok, maybe that’s being a little sarcastic, but a majority of HCC’s students have no clue what the Bunker is. Well, lucky for all of you, I just happen to be a military veteran and frequent visitor of the Bunker who knows a thing or two about its location. Oh, and before I forget, I’ll even give you guys a literary tour of the Bunker’s history. It’s a bit of a bonus, so saddle up and enjoy the ride!
The Bunker started in a storage room that was located on campus in Frost 149. Two comrades and long time buddies, Robert “Mac” McRobbie (Marine Corps Veteran) and Kurt Bordas ( Air Force Veteran), both realized that there wasn’t a veteran support system at HCC. These trail-blazers understood the importance of establishing a place for student veterans, active service members, and visitors to interact or take advantage of services available to them. Therefore, in the mid 2000’s, these pioneers spear-headed the founding and establishment of the Bunker. They were also assisted by HCC faculty members, Liz Golen, Edward Dice and the schools administration to put the plan into action.
Fast-forward to 2016, The Bunker’s leadership was handed over to Robert Vigneault, an Air Force veteran of 15 years. While still a student at HCC, Vigneault managed to balance his workload to help with the improvements for the Bunker. He’s aided in the log in attendance catapulting from 150 people to 450 a month. Also during his tenure, computer access for students has doubled.
The Bunker recently moved from Frost 149 to the former site of student senate next to the radio station in Don 105. The resources that can be provided are numerous with help ranging from food assistance, school supplies, information for veteran/ military services , and many more! Robert Vigneault is a man of integrity, who has continued to help with the Bunker’s improvements.
In addition, the Bunker is a leader in providing information about upcoming events that are military oriented. Rather than scrambling through the local newspaper or searching on senseless sites, the Bunker always has a publication posted within the HCC’s newsletter of the many military related events in and around the Holyoke area. There’s even flyers in the Bunker that may advertise additional content about upcoming events and sometimes service related issues. This is just another example of how resourceful the Bunker is for HCC.
All in all, Vigneault often reminds others about the purpose for having the Bunker. Regularly, he’s heard emphasizing that, “The mission is not only to support our veterans, but to also help the students here at HCC who are civilians by teaching them about military culture.” This is a prime example of the military way to always be of service for others. Admirably, the Bunker has always lived up to this moniker since its beginnings. As for you, you are invited to stop in one day, have a cup of coffee and kick back, while learning about the military way. The Bunker is always open for you, Hooyah!