Program helps student veterans find niche on campus

The population of student veterans is making a strong comeback on campus. In order to address the growing number of University of Miami students, two programs will be working in tandem to help address the growing population’s needs.

“This has been a big step forward for the university,” Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs and Ombudsperson Dr. Gail Cole-Avent said. “It’s important we show the support for this student population; we want to make sure that they feel just as supported when they get back to school.”

Dr. Cole-Avent is registered as the adviser for the Veteran’s Student Organization, which recently received its approval from the Council of Student Organizations (COSO) last fall.

The student organization will work closely with the newly created Veteran’s Student Program to formally address the academic needs of student veterans, and help them adjust to the University of Miami’s campus and its curriculum.

The Veteran’s Student Program will be headquartered at the Dean of Students’ Office, and will be advised by Dean Dayle Wilson, the current assistant dean of students at the University of Miami.

The Veteran’s Student Organization has reached a total of 35 registered students on campus. As of last year, 350 faculty members and students on campus indicated that they are veterans.

According to Cole-Avent, the programs’ purpose is to “bring veterans together in order to foster fellowship and mentoring among veterans and students at UM.”

Additionally, the program has multiple goals it aims to accomplish, in order to better target this growing population.

At UM, both programs will work together to support military veterans, educate the UM community on veterans’ issues, establish a network of veterans to work with incoming veterans, and provide community service to disabled veterans at the Miami Veteran’s Administration Hospital.

“It’s about community development,” Dr. Cole-Avent said. “We know that when you  come to a new place, you often gravitate to those who have similar experiences before you go out to the big arena. The key thing is being able to say, ‘Here is a community for you, if you choose to be a part of it.’”

Being a veteran is not required to be part of the student organization.

“If you’re interested in the cause, you’re more than welcomed to participate,” Dr. Cole-Avent said.

She said she remembers the daughter of a veteran attending one of the organization’s meetings.

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