New center focused on student veteran support
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is establishing a base of operations to support student veterans, members of the military and their dependents.
The new Military and Veteran Success Center, located in the Nebraska Union, Room 16, is designed to assist student veterans with the transition to academic life and support their successes. The center opens Sept. 11.
"The primary focus of the center will be to support veterans and their dependents, from their first day on campus through graduation," said Darrell Everhart, founding director of the center and a retired U.S. Navy captain. "We are offering this support to all student veterans, which includes active-duty, reservists, National Guard and military dependents.
"Our goal is to develop programs and services that empower student veterans to succeed, both personally and professionally, in an academic environment."
The program is an extension of UNL's First-Year Experience and Transition Programs. The office will serve as the primary source of support on military and veteran benefits, military credit and tuition assistance. It will also provide student veterans and their dependents with other services, including academic support; career planning and networking; orientation; peer mentoring; admissions counseling; and a location to study individually or collaborate as a group while networking.
In fall 2014, UNL had more than 500 veterans or dependents enrolled who received Montgomery GI or Post-9/11 educational benefits. These students often have unique requirements compared with more traditional students, said Michelle Waite, assistant to the chancellor for community relations.
"UNL takes our approach to service members and veterans very seriously," Waite said. "We realize that our veteran students enrich our campuses by providing a very different perspective, based on their military experience — even though many student veterans may be the same age as other college students."
Along with Everhart, the office will include Deb Quinn, UNL's veterans coordinator and certifying official, veteran affairs work-study students and 10 peer-mentor leaders.
"The peer-mentor program is brand new and launches this fall," Everhart said. "They represent a cross section of our diverse society with military and civilian service. All are student veterans who are dedicated to helping others with the transition to university life."
The mentors communicate with student veterans, providing welcome and orientation assistance as the semester starts. They also will offer resources and guidance throughout the academic year.
Everhart said the center will also work to promote community recognition, greater integration and success on campus that will positively impact retention and graduation rates.
"We want to remove hurdles these student veterans face as they transition from being a soldier or member of the military to civilian life on campus," Everhart said. "This office is dedicated to helping them succeed at UNL. It is the least we can do for the sacrifices that they and their families have given.”