September 12, 2011

SIUC again lauded for service to military members

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s continuing commitment to providing outstanding educational opportunities to its student military veterans and active-duty personnel is once again earning national praise.

G.I. Jobs magazine today (Sept. 12) named the University as a “Military Friendly School for 2011.”  According to the magazine, the list honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the nation.  The magazine polled more than 8,000 schools nationwide; 1,518 institutions made this year’s list.

This is the third consecutive year the University is receiving the honor, and the latest in a series of tributes that lauds SIUC’s focus on student military veterans and active duty personnel.  SIUC is also among the nation’s top military-friendly colleges and universities according to Military Advanced Education magazine; making each of that publication’s four annual surveys -- an honor accorded to approximately 20 schools nationwide.

“We are proud to be known as a friend to our fine men and women in the armed services, and the University will continue its efforts to serve their higher education needs,” said SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng.  “SIUC has a long record of working with veterans and we are constantly striving to strengthen this bond.”

The University serves 617 student military veterans enrolled on the Carbondale campus for the fall 2011 semester, and another 1,172 active duty personnel and veterans at 24 off-campus military base locations in 14 states.

“SIUC is committed to veterans and awards such as these allow us to be recognized nationally for the work that we already do, and the work that we hope to expand in the future,” said Kristen Amaya, the University’s Veterans’ Center coordinator. “The Veterans Center is vital in that endeavor, and the skilled staff of 100 percent veterans is committed to helping student veterans with any problem they want to bring to us.”

The Veterans Center provides a wide array of information and services to student veterans, including insight into financial aid, admissions, academic and health resources, and housing guides.

The Veterans Center operates with the help of six student veterans who are part of a Veterans Administration work-study program.  The Center received an $81,050 grant earlier this month from the IDVA) to assist student veterans who need medical, dental, and counseling services, along with provide workshops on issues ranging from understanding veterans’ benefits to improving personal writing skills.  It is the fourth consecutive year the University has earned the grant.

“We are very proactive and reactive to what student veterans need to be successful at the University,” Amaya said.  “We are constantly looking for new ways to serve student veterans and improve upon things we already do well.  To see that recognition from an external organization is very helpful to us and validates what we already do.   We want to continue to provide great services for student veterans and we are dedicated to make sure they are succeeding.”

“The changes Congress made to the Post-9/11 GI Bill this year open the doors of higher education to more student veterans than ever before,” said Rich McCormick, G.I. Jobs publisher in a news release announcing this year’s institutions.  “Already more than half a million people have taken advantage of the program, and with the United States drawing down its troops overseas, the flood of veterans will only grow. The 2012 Military Friendly Schools list helps them find the schools that best serve America’s military and veteran students.”

In May 2010, the University earned the inaugural Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veterans Education, recognizing the University’s efforts to enhance the educational experiences of student military veterans.

In October 2010, Military Times Edge magazine listed SIUC second in the nation in making student military veterans’ success a priority in that publication’s inaugural survey, “Best for Vets.”  For the past three years the same magazine has listed SIUC among the top 50 schools in the nation for active-duty military personnel who use tuition assistance funds.

“We are very pleased SIUC has won the award again this year,” said Thomas H. Beebe, director of SIUC’s Office of Military Programs.  “It is a tribute to our off-campus personnel who do an excellent job assuring each veteran receives the absolute best service and help available to meet their needs.  Frequently people forget those who serve on active duty are also veterans.  SIUC never forgets the sacrifices they and their families make, not only with the frequent absences when duty calls, but also time spent going to classes and studying.  The veteran's dedication and desire to learn are the reasons our off-campus personnel are so proud to work with them.”

More information about the rankings is available at  More information on the SIUC’s Veterans Center is available at and on the University’s Office of Military Programs at