Initiative to expand student veteran services
Student armed forces veterans at the University are the beneficiaries of improved and expanded services through new initiatives that were announced by Provost Teresa Sullivan at the January Board of Regents meeting.
The Office of New Student Programs (ONSP), a unit reporting the Office of the Provost, will serve as a hub for services to student veterans at the University that include advocacy, leadership of a new Council on Student Veterans, a Student Veteran Mentoring Program and a new Web site that will serve as a central information source for prospective, new and current student veterans.
"The University's size and decentralization can make navigating the University difficult, especially if a student is deployed out of the country," says Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs. "Therefore, a main focus of these initiatives will be to ensure student veterans are aware of the resources available to them. This effort will bring new energy to existing efforts and increase the coordination among units who can provide assistance to student vets."
Advocacy for student veterans includes:
• Providing resources and referrals to student veterans to help them understand and access all services and options available to them;
• Serving as an advocate for student veterans to resolve issues once usual procedures have been exhausted;
• Collaborating with other campus units to ensure resolution of problems;
• Identifying and eliminating institutional practices and policies that have a negative impact on student success or satisfaction;
• Acting as an advocate for deployed military service members to facilitate efficient departures and returns; and
• Serving as a liaison throughout the University to identify academic, administrative and support services needed by deployed military service members.
The new Council on Student Veterans will serve as a campus support team with representatives from several centralized student services offices including ONSP, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Rackham, Office of Financial Aid, Registrar Office, LSA Academic Advising, the Center for the Education of Women, and Counseling and Psychological Services. Other unit representatives may be added when deemed necessary. Members of the Council will designate a "point person" within their respective units to work with student vets and ensure that their units are aware of issues that might affect student veterans in their transition from military to college life. The council also will provide information and work with other units regarding the needs of student veterans.
A transition specialist will join a team working with new student orientation, transfer orientation, parent orientation, University mentorship, parents weekend, transfer connections and Arts at Michigan programs, says Ann Hower, ONSP director. "The transition specialist will coordinate services and resources for new and current student veterans to assist in their transition from military member to U-M student," Hower says.
ONSP also is creating a student veteran mentoring program to connect prospective, new and current student veterans to a campus network of advocates. "The idea of the mentoring program is to facilitate the student veterans' transition into the U-M community and enhance their overall experience at Michigan. Current student vets will be employed to serve as peer mentors to plan programs and activities to meet the needs of new student vets. Faculty and staff who are veterans will also serve as mentors, "Hower says.
Finally, ONSP is launching a "virtual office" Web site for student veterans that will be available to prospective, new and current students anywhere in the world. "The Web site will serve as a centralized repository of key information about services and educational opportunities at the University that is particularly relevant to student veterans," Hower says. "Similar to our U-M parent Web site, we will provide a 'narrative' that will make our policies and procedures more transparent, especially in terms of how they apply to an individual separating from the military."
The Web site is expected to go live in April.