Mason Awarded Grant to Support Veterans’ Services

Posted: April 28, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Mason was one of 20 institutions of higher education recently awarded a Success for Veterans Award grant from the American Council on Education (ACE) and the Wal-Mart Foundation.

This $100,000 grant will help Mason’s Military and Veterans Office evolve further into a comprehensive, coordinated one-stop resource and support center to ensure academic, psychological and transition support.

Mason’s Military and Veterans Office serves about 1,000 active duty, reserve, National Guard and veteran students, offering assistance and information regarding issues such as veteran services and academic counseling, as well as information about the many benefits to which they are entitled through state and federal government programs.

The office also assists veterans in adapting from military life to collegiate life, connecting them to each other and supporting them as they pursue their studies at Mason.

“For a new veteran, attending college can be kind of daunting. There is a lot of bureaucracy involved, and you don’t have a first sergeant or platoon commander to take care of you and guide you through the process,” says Michael Johnson, director of the Military and Veterans Office at Mason.

“As such, Mason is one of only a handful of universities that have created a staff position specifically to support these student veterans, and I am excited to be part of cutting-edge programs designed to assist this diverse group of students and their specialized needs.”

Through the Success for Veterans Award grant, Johnson hopes to add two additional half-time counselors to his staff to help him meet the demand.

One position is a transition assistance counselor, who will serve as academic advisor, coordinating academic resources on campus, facilitating transfer credit processes, and providing guidance on career and program planning to military and veteran students and their families.

The second position is a military/veteran affairs counselor who will provide psychosocial assessments, treatment and case management guidance and assistance to students as they transition from military service to civilian and student life. The counselor would also develop a mentoring program to assist in the assimilation process and provide socializing/networking opportunities for these students and their families.

“Mason is geographically positioned to serve the educational needs of the large number of military and veteran families residing in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region,” says Andrew Flagel, dean of admissions at Mason.

“This grant will create a positive ripple effect throughout the Mason community, will provide guidance and will serve as a resource and model for other institutions.”

Mason was chosen from more than 250 applications. The ACE/Wal-Mart Success for Veterans Award Grants are part of ACE’s “Serving Those Who Serve” initiative, a multiyear effort designed to effect major changes in how veterans learn about their education benefits and postsecondary options, as well as how institutional leaders can build capacity to serve veterans on their campuses.

“We are thrilled to have been selected in this highly competitive process, and I think our selection speaks volumes about Mason’s commitment to our veteran population and our resolve to being one of the flagship institutions in the country dealing with veteran-related issues,” says Johnson.

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