TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- With U.S. military involvement winding down in Afghanistan and ended in Iraq, many veterans are returning to the states ready to continue their educations.
At Northeastern State University, policies are in place and particular effort is put forth to enroll these nontraditional students and support them through graduation. Nearly 400 veterans are enrolled at NSU.
"Veterans are a very special group of people," said Paula Page, associate registrar and veterans coordinator. "Having been in the military, they and their dependents bring many positive assets and insights with them. They are an outstanding inclusion which benefits our other students, and our faculty and staff as well."
Most student veterans and dependents attend NSU with assistance from a federal program such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill, Reserve Educational Assistance or Survivors and Dependents Assistance. Page certifies for NSU Veteran Affairs the enrollment of veterans, dependents, reservists, guardsmen and disabled veterans for educational benefits.
NSU also participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, which allows veterans from across the U.S. to attend Northeastern at a tuition rate lower than that for traditional out-of-state students. Oklahoma has reciprocity agreements with some states allowing veterans to attend its institutions for the same tuition they would pay in their home states, but the Yellow Ribbon program can provide for veterans not covered by those agreements.
Yellow Ribbon makes attending NSU more affordable for veterans through the Post-9/11 GI Bill's Chapter 33 educational benefits, which can apply to up to four years of enrollment as much as 15 years after discharge.
But determining eligibility and enrollment is just the beginning of the relationship between NSU and veteran students.
There is a mentoring program which pairs incoming veteran students with faculty and staff who are veterans. Mentors help veterans transition to campus life by answering questions, referring them to proper help channels and staying in contact.
Also, a Student Veterans of America chapter will open during the spring 2013 semester.
"This all creates a nice community for all veterans on campus," said Jason Denny, a student veteran representative and himself a veteran. "These students who have served, who might have issues such as PTSD or troubles with their studies, they can link together with other vets. I've seen that kind of atmosphere help students get through to graduation. It gives them a sense of community and comfort."
Denny said the on-campus assistance also helps veterans graduate in a timely matter.
"They come in after four or six years of service and they are ready to go to work," he said. "By necessity, they are starting or finishing college later than traditional students and we need to facilitate their academic success so they can begin their careers. An important part of that is working with our Office of Career Services. There are so many great resources on campus for our veterans and we want to see them utilize those."
For the third consecutive year, NSU was included in a list of military friendly education institutions compiled by G.I. Jobs for the 2012-13 academic term.
G.I. Jobs' 2013 list of Military Friendly Schools can be seen at militaryfriendlyschools.com/mfslist.aspx. The roll recognizes the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools which are doing the most to embrace America’s veterans as students.
For more information about NSU Veteran Affairs call 918-444-2204.
Published: 12/17/2012 9:30:46 AM