GV named military friendly school for sixth year in a row

Drew Howard

For the sixth consecutive year, Grand Valley State University has been awarded the title of military friendly school by Victory Media Inc.

With the help of educators across the country, the 2015 military friendly schools list comprises the top 15 percent of academic institutions that go above and beyond in providing a welcoming environment for military service members, veterans and spouses.

Assistant Dean of Students Steven Lipnicki works to support the success of adult students, including those who have served in the U.S. armed forces.

Lipnicki said it would have been a disappointment if the university was not included on the annual list of military friendly schools.

“In 2009, GVSU created the Veterans Network to capitalize on the expertise that already existed for providing excellent services to student veterans,” Lipnicki said. “The Veterans Network has focused on helping veterans connect with one another through the support of the Grand Valley Student Veterans of America chapter. They helped create a space in the Kirkhof Center for student veterans to meet, improve communication with student veterans and train over 400 faculty and staff members about the military experience and transitional lifestyle realities for students who have recently left the military.”

Criteria for the military friendly schools list takes into account a number of variables. To make it on the list, a school is judged by their military support on campus, academic credibility, percent of military students, employment rates as well student tuition assistance.

Schools that previously made it on the list are held to a higher standard each year.

Just this past year, GVSU increased its support for student veterans when it was reported that all eligible military veterans would be charged at the in-state tuition rate no matter where they were previously living.

“We continue to evaluate the academic and career success of these students,” Lipnicki said. “We are now hosting a veteran resource navigator from AmeriCorps at GVSU. Katie Richter, both a current student and a veteran, is available to assist veterans with their benefits and support the work of the Veterans Network and GVSU’s Student Veterans of America chapter.”

Current GVSU student Duane Emery was on active duty in the military for eight years before making the transition into his college education. Emery was a staff sergeant who served in Korea, Japan and Nebraska among other places and has been attending GVSU for two years now.

“I don’t think many people are aware of how many students at GVSU are actually veterans,” Emery said. “It was definitely scary making the transition from the military into my college education, and I think that GVSU is an excellent school and has been very accommodating in my move.”

According to Lipnicki, GVSU was home to over 600 veterans in the fall of 2013, and the numbers for this year are expected to be even higher.

“We expect the number of current and former service members as well as dependents pursuing a higher education will continue to increase for the next several years,” Lipnicki said. “GVSU needs to be prepared to support these students by providing resources and acknowledging their service and sacrifices.”

Lipnicki added, “The goal is simply to help current and former service members easily and successfully transition from soldier to student, complete their academic objectives, and advance or transition into new professions and careers.”

For more information, the Veterans Network can be found at the Student Services Building in Room 150.

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