Veterans see University on the right path

As a nation, we dedicate one day a year to honor and thank the men and women who have served our country: Veterans’ Day.

At SVSU, much more time has been dedicated than that, since the University was announced this year as a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs magazine.

The designation is given to schools that are doing the most to welcome veterans into their student body.

G.I Jobs completed a survey of veteran students at 8,000 schools and universities, as well as doing extensive research.

Based on these results, the top 20 percent of schools are designated as military friendly.

Saginaw Valley has been working to increase its service to veterans and their families since last year when former Marine Jose Coll visited campus. After his visit, a task force was created to evaluate the resources and programs offered to veterans on campus.

This year, two work-study positions exclusively for veterans, through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, were approved for Saginaw Valley.

Will Smith, vice president of the Cardinal Military Association and a veteran of Iraq, acknowledged that the task force was really a turning point for the University.

“I got invited to sit on the task force and it really helped Saginaw Valley become military friendly,” he said.

The Cardinal Military Association is a RSO for veterans and their families on campus.

Shaun Yankee, president of the association who served in Iraq, described the CMA as a work in progress.

“We’re here to help military students/families during their college careers, if it’s for education benefits and pointing them in the right direction or just having somebody to talk with that knows what they’re going through,” Yankee said of the association.

This year, the CMA became an affiliate of the Student Veterans of America, a coalition of student veterans groups from schools around the country.

Yankee said that SVSU has come a long way in acknowledging and addressing its veterans, but he and Smith have some ideas about what else the University could do.

“I would like to see more awareness for those coming out of the service so they can get info (about the University),” Smith said.

He explained that the school does have a veterans orientation led by former military students, but he would like to see more.

“I would like to see an office, like a military lounge, where all students can go to use computers or relax, but would be a place where veterans as well as their dependents could talk and access information about their benefits,” he said.

Yankee believes that a counselor on campus specifically for veterans would be very helpful.

“It’s about accessibility,” Yankee said. “The Vet Center offers counseling, but it’s not at the school. It would be much better if we had an education vet-to-vet counselor on campus.”

Though SVSU and its professors help veterans to get reacquainted with society, Yankee said that “everyone deals with it in their own way.”

Gretchen Evans, who had 27 years of service in the military including Afghanistan, Desert Storm I, Grenada and Somalia, said that the faculty and staff at the University are supportive of veteran students.

Evans explained that with the G.I. Bill, a Veteran can go to any school they can get in to.

Evans, who lost part of her hearing during her service, explained that all the faculty and professors she’s had are very compassionate when it comes to disabilities.

“It takes apprehension away from veterans who have been disabled in war to know there is help,” Evans said.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 21st, 2011 and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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