Robust on-campus support for student veterans requires commitment from top college and university leadership
An event, “Valuing Veterans: How Our Campuses Can Better Serve Those Who Have Served,” held in Chicago on September 27, generated support for student veterans from the presidents and provosts of Chicago-area colleges and universities and raised awareness of the needs and contributions of student veterans.
The event was attended by representatives of more than 20 Chicago-area higher education institutions whose veterans services staff were regular attendees of the McCormick Veterans Higher Education Affinity Group. A host committee included the presidents of National Louis University, Northeastern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois; the chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago; and the Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement. Speakers at the event included McCormick Foundation President David Hiller, Col. David Sutherland, Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon, and ABC 7 News anchor Stacey Baca.
At the conclusion of the event, the host committee recognized the college and university leaders who had signed the Valuing Veterans pledge, which affirmed the commitment of college and university leaders to support student veterans by enhancing student veteran outreach and recognition, providing transition services, and establishing support policies and procedures.
A student veteran who was at the event said, “To see our president sign the pledge, it was a great feeling because only great things can come of this. This pledge shows a material commitment that [my college] is going to make and that the challenges veterans face are being addressed.”
Within three weeks of the event, progress had already been made at individual institutions. Two affinity group members reported the establishment of on-campus veterans centers, one reported the establishment of a 25-member cross-departmental veterans task force, and another reported plans to develop faculty and staff training on student veterans.