We have the pleasure of leading the newly formed Veterans Steering Committee that — with the support of ROTC, Adult Focus, the registrar's office, the Provost's office and others — is charged with creating a gateway for veterans on campus, enabling them to have easy access to the services they need to enroll, adjust, engage and succeed as students here.
Today we have nearly 500 veterans on campus. That number stands to increase significantly in the years ahead. An estimated 1.5 million service personnel have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, all of them soon eligible for benefits under the New G.I. Bill, which will pay for a large percentage of their tuition and fees. Ohio has taken the additional step of offering in-state tuition rate to military veterans, their spouses and children from any state.
Veterans have unique needs, and our plans take these needs into account. In the near term, we are planning the following:
- We will be at a competitive advantage the easier it is for veterans to learn what military credits will transfer in and the easier it is for military credit to transfer into UA credit. Of course, we will explore ways of doing this without compromising our academic integrity.
- Starting in July, a new VISTA veterans' services coordinator will be added to the Adult Focus office. The coordinator, who will be a veteran, will serve as the liaison to the ROTC office, will educate faculty about the unique needs of service personnel, will be an advocate on campus for veterans and will develop groups to support veteran students.
- We have two main goals by summer's end. First, we'll conduct focus groups with currently enrolled veterans to identify, from the veteran's perspective, the resources and supports needed for success. And second, we will open a Veterans' Gathering Place in the ROTC complex. It will be a welcoming and engaging area where veterans can congregate, share common experiences and develop the peer support network important for academic success.
Already, the registrar's office has opened a Military Services Center to make it easy for veterans to enroll at UA and take advantage of the support services available to them. The Military Services Center Web site provides enrollment information for military personnel and their dependents.
One-stop center in plans
Further out, we envision a one-stop center that would assist veterans with enrollment, transfer and orientation matters daily. But beyond that, each day at the center would have a special focus. Although still in the planning stages, tentative foci include health issues, family support and counseling, legal advice, business-related matters and other areas that we hope the campus community and veterans will help us define.
Significantly, we would like to make the center available to all veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families, not just those enrolled at UA.
We also are exploring financial aid assistance for eligible veterans who want to attend graduate school or law school. Further, we would like to be able to provide stipends that would help fund living expenses, allowing the veterans to focus primarily on their studies.
We view the efforts we are making to open doors here for veterans as one small way that we, as a University, can express our gratitude to veterans for their service to our country.
“Perspectives from the Provost” is distributed weekly during the fall and spring semesters. We welcome your comments. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.