Texas A&M System provides Best Practices guidelines for services to student veterans

Texas A&M System provides Best Practices guidelines for services to student veterans

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Courtesy Texas A&M Systems

COLLEGE STATION, Jan. 18, 2012 – John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, today announced creation of a new Best Practices model for services and support to student veterans throughout its 11 campuses, seven state agencies and health science center. Drawing upon the A&M System’s Project Military Friendly and input from universities, community colleges and agencies around the state and the country, the guidelines cover student veteran-related issues ranging from GI Bill financial procedures to counseling to improved measurements for tracking academic success.

“This important Best Practices model provides the groundwork for a more focused and collaborative approach to providing service to our veterans and military community, not only within the A&M System, but throughout the higher education community,” said Sharp. “With student veteran enrollment steadily increasing as troops come home from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, it is vital that we do everything we can to ensure that our universities are prepared to put these fine young men and women on a steady path to success.”

The Best Practices, developed and implemented through the A&M System’s Veterans Support Office, emphasize a holistic approach to serving the veteran and military community and are posted on the VSO website at http://www.tamus.edu/home/veterans. The model addresses both the readjustment issues many younger vets face and also their strong desire to meld into traditional campus life. Because student veterans may be coming back directly from a stressful and dangerous environment that allowed little time for college preparation, they benefit considerably from streamlined admission procedures and from credits for military service that translate into academic requirements.

Other areas addressed in Best Practices call for campuses to provide top-down support for veterans issues, including enhancing opportunities for faculty engagement and mentoring. The importance of health and counseling support specifically focused on the needs of veterans is also included in the guidelines. Also called for are efforts to better identify veterans, track their academic progress, and improve graduation rates, initiatives also advanced strongly by the Veterans Administration.

Texas student veteran enrollment has more than doubled at many universities and community colleges in Texas in the last several years. The Texas Veterans Commission now counts more than 76,000 veterans in Texas involved in GI Bill-funded studies, up from 40,000 two years ago. The A&M System’s student vet and dependent population as measured by GI Bill certifications and use of the Texas-only Hazlewood tuition exemption program, has doubled to more than 6,200 since 2009 and the numbers are expected to rise.

In addition to the Best Practices, the A&M System sponsors an annual Military Friendly Symposium and a Military Friendly Listserv. Both include participants from around the state and provide a statewide approach to sharing information, networking, and developing ideas for service to veterans.

“These Best Practices, which are drawn from the practical experiences of so many of our colleagues around Texas, are in the same spirit of everything we do for veterans in the A&M System. When it comes to helping our vets, we’re all on the same team, united in a goal of making this era of veteran support the best America has seen, for those who have served so valiantly on our behalf,” said Rod Davis, director of the Veterans Support Office.

About the A&M System
The A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $3.3 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, seven state agencies and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System educates more than 120,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Externally funded research expenditures exceed $780 million and help drive the state’s economy.