Since 2010, Rutgers’ student veteran population has increased almost fivefold to more than 2,000 men and women who have served in the military. They are served by Rutgers’ Office of Veteran and Military Programs and Services, which is directed by retired U.S. Army Col. Stephen G. Abel.
The Lumina Foundation, which is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college, also cites the University of Arizona for its services to returning troops in the magazine’s latest issue.
“Returning veterans need strong allies on college campuses, and these two institutions have answered the call,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and chief executive officer of Lumina Foundation. “These students are, in many ways, the most nontraditional of nontraditional students.
“These soldier/scholars are set apart from their college peers by age, life experience, by envelopment in the military culture and all too often by a close-up view of war. Colleges and universities simply can’t conduct business as usual and expect to properly serve these students.”
Rutgers had no student veteran programs to speak of in 2010, but the institution has quickly become a model for other universities interested in serving return vets. Veterans House, geared specifically toward creating a community of caring and support for student veterans, is the centerpiece of the university’s efforts.
“Veterans House serves multiple functions,” said Karen Stubaus, vice president for academic affairs and administration at Rutgers. “It’s a command center, a place for studying and socializing, and a hub for bringing critical university services to veterans.
“It’s a place that breaks down the confusion in what can sometimes be the harshness of a large university. The house produces a comfort level and helps student veterans navigate the bureaucracies.”
Its excellence in serving the student veteran population recently was recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which designated Rutgers as VetSuccess on Campus University, according to Abel. He said the recognition will give Rutgers a full-time Veterans Administration employee to handle all VA-related issues, and added that about only 65 universities nationwide have earned this designation.
The current issue of Focus provides a wealth of information about the importance of higher education for student veterans and how the programs at Rutgers and the University of Arizona are assisting this growing population achieve educational goals and a higher quality of life for themselves and their families.
The Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025.