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Welcome Home, Troops!

Empire State College student Ryan Smithson in Iraq

Veteran’s Day was just a few days ago, and with President Obama’s announcement of removing the troops from Iraq, everyone is talking about how to welcome our brave soldiers home.

We thought you might like to know that SUNY takes pride in and welcomes students with military background and experience. Currently, there are 10,000 students who are veterans or active military. All 64 SUNY campuses offer a wide array of support services specific to veterans including: admission, academic advisement, financial benefit assistance, counseling, and other support referrals; and almost all of them have a primary contact person assigned to assist veteran’s needs.

The majority of campus’s admissions/financial aid staff are trained on the parameters of the new GI Bill.  The new GI Bill for Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran’s of America, as well as, the Post 9/11 Veteran’s Education Assistance Act details some of the educational benefits accessible to veterans. You can refer to Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Benefits to apply and see if you are eligible: http://www.gibill.va.gov/

A few campuses offer exceptional programs for veterans. Empire State College’s new online Graduate Certificate in Veterans Services starting in spring 2012 is designed to provide professionals with additional education and skills needed to meet the needs of veterans in accessing available social services such as health care, education, employment and housing. This program will educate students on current policies and services and train them to serve transitioning veterans effectively.

Jefferson Community College’s location provides easy access to the Watertown Vets Center, which brings a mobile counseling site to campus each semester. Onondaga Community College recognizes November as Veteran’s month with a ceremony, trip to Washington D.C., veteran’s movie day, displays, keynote by the President and more.

In addition, SUNY also supports veterans outside of their academics. Many campuses have veteran’s clubs that serve as support groups for military students, welcome new members, and host events and more. Veteran’s lounges allow military students to interact and bond to achieve success. Every campus provides counseling for veterans, as well as, specialized staff training to better meet their needs. Furthermore, student support services allow extended time for exams and alternative testing locations in order to promote success.

Governor Cuomo’s “Experience Counts” campaign will help veterans qualify for jobs upon their return to New York. This involves a SUNY program which aims to award credit for military training. Chancellor Zimpher said that “SUNY is proud to partner with Governor Cuomo as we seek to provide all veterans with access to higher education and employment.”

These are just some of the examples of how the State University of New York supports veterans and are a few of the reasons why SUNY has been commended for its 23 military friendly campuses by GI Magazine. “It comes as no surprise that so many SUNY colleges and universities have made the military friendly list for 2012,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “With 64 campuses that span the higher education spectrum and offer more than 7,500 degree and certificate programs, military personnel who are transitioning from service to civilian careers are bound to find opportunity and success at SUNY, and we are pleased to welcome them both as new and returning students.”

      Written by Kelsey Wise


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