The University of Nevada, Reno has been named a top military-friendly school by Military Advanced Education, a journal of higher learning for today’s service members.
Military Advanced Education will publish its 2014 Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges & Universities in its December issue.
This honor is a result of the many veteran services offered at the university campus in support of service men and women who become students.
The university’s Veteran Services administers VA Education Benefits, provides one-on-one consultations for student veterans struggling with academics and holds orientation specifically for veterans. Veteran Services also works with the three student veteran groups on campus Wolf Pack Veterans/Student Veterans of America, Omega Delta Sigma, a men and women’s national fraternity, and the Nu Phi student organization. These partnerships and services bring awareness of veteran challenges to both the campus and larger community.
“This recognition as a top military-friendly school speaks to the university’s commitment to provide exceptional resources for the success of our veteran students,” university President Marc Johnson said. “Our veteran students offer diverse experiences to the University and we will continue to look for new and innovative ways to support them through higher education.”
Caleb Cage, director of Military and Veterans Policy through the office of Gov. Brian Sandoval said, “This is a wonderful achievement for the University of Nevada, Reno and it reflects its longstanding dedication to serving those students who have served their country. I have watched the University’s efforts to serve student veterans grow tremendously throughout the last few years, and I am pleased to see that it has been selected for this prestigious award.”
The Veteran Services Office provided services for more than 520 student veterans using the G.I. Bill last semester.
“The main goal of Veteran Services is to help our students integrate into higher education and be successful from term to term all the way to graduation,” Terina Caserto, director of Veteran Services, said. “Our services also help students assimilate into larger society.”
Two years ago, the university was granted the Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership, VITAL, grant from the Veterans’ Health Administration. The grant provides funding for a mental health clinician on the campus to work with veteran students to improve retention and graduation. While the program has not been in place long enough to measure its impact, Caserto is already seeing the benefits of the grant.
“Last semester, the mental-health clinician was able to intervene with a handful of students who would have otherwise fully withdrawn from school,” Caserto said.
VITAL also directs students to local veteran affairs services outside of the University such as helping students find housing, signing up for healthcare benefits and counseling. The program also develops best practices and works with other veteran offices within the Nevada System of Higher Education.
“It adds the extra level of support to our University and other institutions that connects students with integration in the college system and in society,” Caserto said.
Veteran Services partners with outside organizations like the Nevada National Guard, Naval Air Station Fallon and the Reno VET Center to provide programming for student success. Last year, the Veteran Services Office helped with the Heroes to Hired event, which allowed students to network with potential employers and placed them into jobs around northern Nevada.
Students will also be able to connect with other veterans through the new veterans’ lounge that will be part of the William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center scheduled to open in 2016. The lounge will become a hub and connection spot for students and veterans in the northern Nevada community. The three veteran groups on campus, Wolf Pack Vets, Nu Phi, and Omega Delta Sigma, will also use the lounge to conduct meetings.
Veteran Services is able to offer these types of services because of the efforts of its three professional staff and three VA work-study students. The staff is working to create a peer-to-peer program to match incoming student veterans to current veteran students. The peer-mentor program will create leadership positions on campus, and Veteran Services is also looking to use these positions to help run the new lounge.
“We cannot be successful without the VA work-study students who work in our office,” Caserto said. “They are the face of the office, the ones who talk to the students and help with integration.”
As part of the Nevada System of Higher Education, Nevada schools work together to provide similar types of programs. Many veteran students transfer between the schools and according to Caserto, it is important they don’t get lost in the system.
“Some continuity of programming is important for the students no matter where they go within the system,” said Caserto.