Student Veteran’s Organization helps veterans transition into Civilian life.

Vikki Lampton

One million veterans and their dependents have enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities over the past four years, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. This influx of veterans is a result of the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and more generous financial aid,  generally covering a veteran’s tuition, housing and books. Many veterans face an array of challenges in making the transition to college life.

Switching over to civilian life can be a challenge, and the Student Veteran’s Organization aims to assist students by providing resources to the UMKC veteran community. Most veterans are between the ages of 22-42 and have families. This does not fit the norm for the average undergraduate college student.

Navigating the GI Bill benefits proves to be difficult for many veterans.

“Sometimes veterans can go months without receiving payments, leaving them in financial limbo,” Matthew Charley, SVO vice president, said.

At the beginning of the semester, the SVO held several presentations explaining GI Bill benefits to make sure recipients were fully informed of what can and will happen during the processing.

Most recently, the SVO hosted a résumé workshop to assist veterans in creating a successful résumé to help gain interviews in the civilian workforce. James Madril, veterans employment representative of the Kansas Department of Commerce, taught the workshop. Madril taught how to carefully translate military work experience to make it relevant to a civilian job market.

The SVO is providing veteran awareness classes to faculty to help them understand the issues.

“There has been a big problem on campus with faculty and staff not communicating effectively with veterans,” Charley said. “We are currently working towards obtaining a seat in the Student Senate, so students with any relation to the military have a voice.”

Ohio State University currently dedicates two of its Student Senate seats to veterans, and this has proven effective in meeting the needs of the rising number of veterans in colleges and universities nationwide.

“We have the potential to be the only public school in the region that will be veteran-friendly, making UMKC an ideal choice for exiting military,” Charley said.

Student veterans and dependents may visit the SVO website for more information http://stuorgs.umkc.edu/umkc-student-veterans/ or stop by the office in the Student Union for answers to other questions.