VetSuccess program brings MTSU recognition through military magazine
For the third consecutive year, G.I. Jobs Magazine named MTSU as a top military-friendly school in the United States, being the only university in Tennessee to have the VetSuccess program for veterans.
The list distinguishes the top 15 percent of universities, trade schools and colleges in the country that are working the hardest to aid veteran students and military service members, according to the magazine.
The VetSuccess program officially went into effect on March 26. The program partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to help accommodate veteran students and allow them to achieve the best education possible.
The amenities from the program offer veterans academic success series workshops, educational benefits, vocational rehabilitation, G.I. Bill eligibility and information, scholarships, tutoring and counseling.
Counseling is free and confidential, ranging from topics from post-traumatic stress disorder to adjustment difficulties. Veterans have the option to have individual, group or family counseling designed to fit their specific needs.
“I’ve been working at VetSuccess since March 2012,” said Heather Conrad, VetSuccess counselor. “The majority of the business we’ve had to this point is educational benefit questions – in other words, veterans who are receiving Chapter 33 post 9/11 G.I. Bill and Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation. It’s my goal to reach out to them and help them understand what exactly they are eligible for.”
Conrad has been working with the Veteran Affairs for over 15 years. She meets with students to answer questions, explain VetSuccess services, give counseling and show support.
This fall semester has over 2,000 students and dependents using G.I. benefits or are currently in military service, according to Cathy Kirchner, registrar in the Office of Records.
“I am using my Post 9/11 Bill to pay for all of my education through earning my bachelor’s degree,” said Peter Skoropat, a sophomore majoring in chemistry who served in the Marine Corps Reserve for over five years. “It makes me feel much better knowing that I can depend on MTSU’s Veteran Programs and the people running them to help me understand the areas I am lacking to become a successful student.”
One of the main goals of VetSuccess is to ensure veterans their benefits and success as students.
“The best part of my job is getting to reach out and help people. It’s very rewarding to be able to support our veterans on campus,” Conrad said.
Counseling is of major importance for the VetSucess Program because an abundance of military students experience complications transitioning back to school.
“I was in training for a long time so it was hard going back to school,” said Spencer Rushing, a junior majoring in university studies who currently serves in the Army Reserves. “It’s really weird because no one’s yelling at you or telling you what to do. In TRADOC, a soldier is told when he or she will go to class, eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, etc. Now, all of a sudden, I have all of these choices. I’ve been out of training for about six months now, so I have gotten used to it. With that being said, I’ve learned discipline I don’t think I could learn anywhere else.”
A new mentor program will soon be underway for the VetSuccess agenda, as it will be hiring veterans to start a peer-to-peer mentor program. Similar to work study, veterans can help tutor and mentor other veterans, said Conrad.
For more information on the veteran program, contact Heather Conrad in room 124 of the Keathley University Center or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.