UC President Janet Napolitano this week announced the formation of a systemwide veterans’ advisory group to address the unique challenges of resuming higher education after or during military service.
Napolitano met privately Friday at her Oakland office with the initial 10 members of the advisory group, one student veteran from each campus. She said the idea behind the group’s formation was not only to make sure veterans felt welcome at UC, but also to ensure their academic careers were successful.
“I anticipate that this advisory group will be instrumental in helping us formulate and improve policies that directly affect our current and future student veterans,” she said.
More than 1,300 military veterans and about 100 active duty military personnel currently are enrolled at a UC campus. This number has grown steadily in the past five years and is expected to increase as more veterans return to the United States from service abroad.
Among the topics discussed Friday were improving communications about available financial aid packages before students arrive on campus, and enhancing training for campus staff who focus on veterans’ services.
The group resolved to plan a systemwide summit that would allow student veterans and support staff to discuss topics important to veterans and further staff training.
Members of the advisory group will serve until the end of the academic year and plan to meet again with Napolitano before then.
Each UC campus already has a dedicated veteran services coordinator and/or a support team that serves as the primary contact for addressing the needs of veterans at the university. Moreover, several UC campuses have either already established, or are in the process of establishing, dedicated centers or lounges for student veterans.
Through the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, veterans can have their full in-state tuition and fees – including professional degree supplementary tuition for graduate students – covered for up to 36 months of full-time enrollment. UC campus staff often work with student veterans to help solve any problems with government delays in processing benefits.