October 21, 2013

Student veterans benefit from new partnership

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is partnering with a national non-profit organization to enhance educational and support services to post-9/11 student veterans.

This is the first time that the organization, “Hope For The Warriors,” will have a presence on a university campus to assist those veterans and their families.

“We have a longstanding commitment to meeting the needs of our service men and women, and their families, who have sacrificed so much for all of us,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said. “Our partnership with this outstanding organization will help us to better respond to the challenges facing post-9/11 veterans.”

The partnership is beneficial for Hope For The Warriors in building a community of support for veterans and the organization.  The first step in building that community is awareness, said Robin Kelleher, Hope For The Warriors president and CEO.

“The relationship with SIU will be instrumental to supporting the needs of today’s veteran,” Kelleher said.  “Veterans entering the university are often managing different challenges than their classmates. Hope For The Warriors is proud to serve this population.”

Hope For The Warriors and the university will host a “Run For The Warriors” event next spring.

The organization will work cooperatively with the university’s Veterans Services office, located in Woody Hall, and will have office space there, said Paul Copeland, Veterans Services coordinator. Hope For The Warriors currently has one intern working in the office.

“Every additional service we can bring to campus is beneficial to the students,” Copeland said.

Interim Dean of Students Katherine L. Sermersheim and Copeland emphasized that although Hope For The Warriors focuses on support for post-9/11 veterans, SIU’s Veterans Services office assists all student veterans.

The university recently expanded services with the addition of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) program staff and GI Bill enrollment certification.  SIU Carbondale is also one of more than 250 universities and colleges across the United States implementing a national eight-step program introduced recently by the Obama Administration designed to help veterans achieve their education and employment goals.

The Veterans Services mission continues to grow and receive requests for partnerships from various agencies, Sermersheim said.

The university recently earned “Military Friendly School” for 2014 recognition from Victory Media for a fifth consecutive year as one of the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the United States for providing educational opportunities to student military veterans and active duty personnel.