In commemoration of Veterans Day, we wanted to share with you two ACE member institutions that have initiated innovative programs and services to help student veterans succeed.
The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System, which includes 11 universities, follows the strong military tradition associated with its flagship campus, Texas A&M University in College Station. The System now has more than 11,000 student veterans and dependents, with double-digit increases every year, and provides guidance and coordination through its Veterans Support Office, which is strongly supported by the System’s top leadership, including its Board of Regents and chancellor.
In 2012, Chancellor John Sharp spearheaded the creation of Best Practices Guidelines for all 11 campuses in the A&M system—the guidelines provide a framework for supporting student veterans, acknowledging how their unique position informs and enhances their educational experience.
And they didn’t stop with a document that might spend its life in a desk drawer. In 2013, A&M’s System Veterans Support Office developed a checklist for its institutions to ensure each one was doing all they could to support their student veterans. Director Rod Davis visits each campus, sits down with the president, and works through the list to review what’s working and what needs improvement.
The university also maintains a Military Friendly Listserv with close to 500 participants, which allows veterans administrators at colleges and universities throughout the country working connect and share information with others in the trenches. To join, contact Rod Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
George Mason University
George Mason University’s Office of Military Services (OMS) takes a community partnership approach to aiding its 2,7000 student veterans, with a particular focus on job and skills training designed to ease the transition to civilian life.
In spring 2015, George Mason will launch a pilot program with the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) to offer courses that will help match veterans with jobs, internships and mentorships upon their graduation. Part of the NVTC Veterans Employment Initiative, the partnership will develop and expand veterans training programs that address the skills gap faced by many veterans as they leave military service.
This Initiative not only has created one of the first “business-driven” veteran hiring programs, it has also built a regional model that is being replicated by others regions across the country.