The Veterans Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis has a new mural, symbolizing the university’s efforts to ease the transition from military to campus.

“I entered the contest with a short essay and some drawings,” said Navy veteran and art education major Mike Wattle.

Wattle won the right to paint a 7 by 12 feet mural titled “Student-Veteran- Identity”. Located just outside the school’s Veteran’s Center, the mural represents the challenging transition from military to campus life. Most of the mural characters are featured on the UMSL campus in a variety of uniforms, as veteran’s military memories remain front and center.

“You feel like you’re a different person walking around campus than all the other students most of the time,” said Wattle.

UMSL officials said there are about 400 military veterans studying at the school.

“One thing that we’re celebrating with this mural are the overlapping identities that a student can feel as he or she is leaving the military and coming to college for the first time,” said Rebecca McMenamin, director of the Veterans Center.

Veterans like Tony Bertolini said that transitioning from the military to college life sometimes makes it hard to fit in. After serving as a civil engineer in the Air Force, Bertolini said the Veterans Center was helpful as he pursues a degree in civil engineering.

“I decided to come up here because I heard about the Veterans Center,” said Bertolini. “I came up here and talked to a couple of guys and they told me exactly what steps I needed and also some extra benefits I didn’t know about.”

Tuesday April 5 is the official unveiling of Wattle’s mural. He’s proud of serving his country and his university.

“That mural does mean a lot of me and it’s exciting that it’s going to get some attention.”