Monmouth University’s School of Social Work also launched the Coming Home Project to provide its social work students and community practitioners with resources such as staff and advocacy training, organizational consulting and public policy analysis so that it can better meet the needs of returning career, reservist and National Guard military personnel and their families.
“All of these services are crucial when you have a Marine Corps infantryman who did three tours in Afghanistan and enrolls in college because he wants to pursue a career in the financial industry … only to discover in his first math class that he’s struggling with dyscalculia, a cognitive effect of PTSD or mild traumatic brain injury. If the support services aren’t there, the student might determine math just isn’t for him and drop out of the program,” Callahan says. “But we can help that veteran through our robust service program and collaborating with organizations like the VA and providers that can give them the adaptive technology they need to overcome their disability and pursue any career they want.”
The state’s colleges and universities also offer an array of benefits specifically for their veteran students. Rutgers was the first in the state to offer free elective credits based on DD-214 for years of service, as well as the first to offer a three-day advance to register for classes. At Rowan University, among the benefits for veterans are a waived application and orientation registration fee and veteran/dependent scholarships, as well as facilities such as a dedicated military services office to help both veterans and dependents during their transition and throughout their academic career. Rowan also hosts a Military Appreciation Week with daily events supporting student veterans and dependents, as well as a transfer orientation breakfast where student veterans have an opportunity to meet with military service office representatives prior to the start of orientation.
“We feel that it’s important to focus not only on veterans but on their dependents, as they have also given so much during their loved one’s service,” says Beth Sosnoski, coordinator and school certifying official for the university’s office of military services. “When you’re looking at a dependent’s résumé they may have a work history that shows them changing jobs every three years because their loved one’s duty station or assignment changed.”
At Rowan College of South Jersey, other resources include a bookshelf for veterans with donated books in case their benefits don’t entirely cover the cost of books for their courses, a veteran lounge, as well as veteran-to-veteran tutoring and group fitness programs. The college also hosts an annual event that invites vendors on campus to offer everything from services to employment opportunities. “I think it’s important because during the Vietnam War era, or my era during the Gulf War, these kinds of opportunities just didn’t exist … so many veterans were left on their own to try to procure the services they needed or figure out how to pursue job opportunities,” explains John F. Ryder Jr., director of student affairs and military services. “We believe in putting the experience they obtained in the military to good use, but unfortunately veterans sometimes get pushed aside and often need that extra support.”
South Jersey’s colleges and universities also continue to tout the value of a veteran employee to their corporate partners. “It’s a great way to diversify your workforce, and for the business owner, you’re getting someone who already has real-world experience and understands what it means to have a vision and work toward a common mission,” Callahan says. His office also aims to help tackle common veteran issues, such as homelessness, as well as the effects of non-treatment for service-related disorders—and ensures that veterans have secured employment positions that pay a living wage upon graduation.
“These are people who have given up so much to serve their country, and although the government has stepped in to offer various protections, many veterans will still struggle … and sometimes they just need that one opportunity to make a difference within the community or a workplace,” Ryder concludes.
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Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 10, Issue 3 (March 2020).
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