GV awarded Gold Status by Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency

Lauren Formosa, Staff Writer

GVL / Lauren Seymour

Grand Valley State University prides itself on being an open and welcoming community for all its students, as well as providing the necessary resources they may need in order to succeed in their academic and even personal lives. For veteran and military-connected students, that sentiment couldn’t ring more true.

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) has awarded GVSU with “Gold Star Status” for the 2020-21 academic year, validating the claims and sentiments of many at the university who strive to make GVSU a welcoming and accessible school for veterans.

The MVAA’s Michigan Veteran-Friendly School Program recognizes academic institutions that are committed to supporting their veteran and military-connected students. Their bronze, silver and gold-level rankings are based on multiple criteria which all tie back to the veteran-centric programs and services offered at a given college or university.

For prospective students who have either served in the U.S. military or have some form of military connection, these rankings are a good indication of the type of community they will be entering when applying to university.

“Having ‘Gold Status’ recognition is just sort of a confirmation that we’re doing the right thing,” said Jill Hinton Wolfe, GVSU Military and Veterans Resource Manager. “If a veteran is thinking of coming to Grand Valley, it’s just one extra reassurance that this is a good school and that their service is going to be recognized and their needs are going to be supported.”

GVSU has an abundance of resources available for current and prospective veteran and military-dependent students, many of which are offered through the Military and Veterans Resource Center. From financial aid and GI Bill enrollment to academic advising, the resource center offers anything its students may need in order to succeed during their time at GVSU.

“We have this huge network of support for veterans, regardless if they’re in a financial crisis or if they’re looking to go to grad school and want ways to have it paid for through scholarships or grants,” Wolfe said.

Besides the obvious means of support, The Military and Veterans Resource Center supports its students by giving them something all university students look for: a sense of community and belonging. Transitioning to university life after serving in the military can be a struggle for many, however, GVSU is committed to making sure these students have steady support systems in place and a strong sense of community with one another.  

“We’re all wearing the same uniforms, eating the same foods, sleeping in the same places,” Wolfe said. “That’s what the military is about, so we’re trying to translate that feeling of community and have it evolve here at Grand Valley. They know when somebody is struggling or having a hard time. They are connected to each other, and to me, in order to feel like they belong here and that there are people that care.”

The Military and Veterans Resources Center has many in-person events planned for the 2021-22 academic year in an effort to bolster their veteran community, such as their tailgate for last Saturday’s football game and their upcoming soft opening of the veteran’s lounge on Pew Campus. In addition, the Student Veterans of America (SVA) holds meetings every third Wednesday of the month and the Alumni Veterans Association is planning their service project for October.  

While the future is looking bright for veteran students, Wolfe said that her goal is to promote unity between veteran students and the general campus community. Students at GVSU who are allies and want to show support for their fellow veteran students can find ways to get involved with SVA and promote a more unified community. 

“As we have future events, like barbecues, bonfires, or tailgates, we would love to have more support from the student population,” Wolfe said. “We’re really trying to move from vet-friendly to an integrated veteran-inclusive campus community.”