Recently, Nazareth College, in partnership with the Veterans Outreach Center (VOC),hosted another program in a series titled Coming Home from War: A Veteran and Family Discussion Series. This series explores the reintegration of our Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans and their families. The latest discussion focused on post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which by some estimates, afflicts 20% of returning veterans. The 80 people in attendance heard poignant stories about veterans affected by this disease. Dr. Laurie Stone, associate director of the VA National Center for PTSD, spoke about PTSD research and the steps being taken to identify and treat those with the disorder.
This is the second year that Nazareth has co-hosted the Coming Home From War Series with the VOC. It is just one of the many ways that the College is working to serve the needs of returning vets and their families. We believe that Nazareth was the first school in New York State to announce that it would provide scholarship assistance to fill the gap between the actual cost of tuition and the amount veterans receive under the new GI Bill. Even before implementation of the yellow ribbon program Nazareth was willing to guarantee that veterans who served since 9/11 could get a college degree free of tuition charges. The government recently cut back on the education funds available under the GI Bill. Despite this reduction in federal funding, Nazareth has agreed to continue to fill the gap, thereby ensuring that veterans since 9/11 will be able to get a college education without paying for any tuition.
Nazareth also partnered with VOC on Project Vet Connect-Ed. This initiative was funded by a College Access Challenge Grant of the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation. It offers programs to local veterans interested in attending college and to faculty and staff at those colleges. A professional development program at Nazareth attracted over 100 faculty and staff members who heard presentations about the needs of veterans and their family members.
Another aspect of the College’s efforts involves the Rochester Regional Veterans Business Council, which supports veteran owned businesses and provides a forum to make the veteran business community an economic force in employment and business development. The Council holds its monthly meetings on our campus and last Fall we hosted a day-long job fair on campus for veterans and veteran-operated businesses. For all our efforts on behalf of veterans, I’m proud to say the Business Council recently awarded us the Veteran Education Champion Award for 2011.
Finally, to show our full commitment to veteran students, Nazareth will soon open a Veterans Student Services Center and will hire a full time person to recruit veterans and ensure that they get the needed services while at Nazareth. The College believes in the value of these young men and women and understands its responsibility to assist them in making the transition to productive civilian lives.