Combat veteran Philip Girardin credits the new UOPX Veteran Student Committee with helping him find a community and a sense of belonging at University of Phoenix. The committee helps veteran students network with one another academically and socially as well as professionally.
“I have to credit University of Phoenix,” said Girardin, 33, who serves as Committee vice president and is working toward a bachelor’s degree “If I ever have an issue, I have a list of people I can call, even if it’s not their department, that get me where I need to go. I usually have a response the same day.”
The community is fostered by grad team employees working with military-affiliated students who are required to earn military certification training to understand and meet the needs of veterans. Initiatives like this are one of the many ways that the University’s Office of Military and Veteran Affairs (OMVA) provides resources to help military-affiliated students and veterans pursue their academic and career goals. For its efforts, the Arizona Department of Veteran Services (AZDVS) certified the University’s Phoenix Campus as a Veteran Supportive Campus.
The Student Veteran Committee is just one of many efforts to help ensure military-affiliated students receive the support they need – and deserve. Other works includes alliances with organizations that help support service members and veterans, dedicated support and resources, an active duty military tuition rate, career and campus resources, and information about scholarship possibilities.
In addition to honoring the sacrifices of those who have served by participating in the annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade and spelling out patriotic messages with flags each Memorial Day, UOPX offers a variety of support services to meet their unique needs. The University has a 300-member Veterans Employee Resource Group comprised of staff and faculty who are either veterans, members of the military or family members and supporters of the military. It has also opened Veterans Resource Centers at five UOPX campuses, including the flagship in Phoenix. In these centers, veterans and active-duty students can study in quiet areas, use the center’s computers and printers, or socialize as they watch TV, share coffee or food. There is also a virtual Veteran Resource Center for students.
Additionally, the University has alliances with American Corporate Partners – which matches military-affiliated students with volunteer business mentors from companies throughout the country – and Give an Hour – which provides access to free mental health services from licensed providers.
"We truly appreciate the service and sacrifices made by our military-affiliated students and alumni, so we strive to do help them support them in their academic and professional pursuits.”
— Amy Byrne, senior manager of strategic engagement in the Office of Military and Veteran Affairs.
Amy Byrne, OMVA senior manager of strategic engagement, said that the Veteran Supportive Campus certification embodies the dedication to the military community upheld by the OMVA’s staff.
"We truly appreciate the service and sacrifices made by our military-affiliated students and alumni, so we strive to do help them in their academic and professional pursuits,” Byrne said.
The University’s dedication to military students is not only recognized by Girardin and AZDVS. It is being felt by veteran students across the Phoenix Campus.
Last April, the University polled military students at the Phoenix Campus to gauge their view of military support efforts. Of the 71 veterans who completed the survey, 97 percent identified the campus as “veteran friendly.” Nearly 95 percent of those surveyed said they are satisfied or very satisfied with the resources UOPX offers veterans. The survey will be administered each year as part of the Phoenix Campus’s certification by AZDVS.
Christina Totah, a campus operations specialist, conducted the survey and is involved closely in helping veterans be part of the University community. She manages the Veteran Resource Center at the Phoenix campus and coordinates the work of the new Veteran Student Committee, which began meeting last spring.
She said that the Veteran Resource Center is a hub for veterans to connect with each other, which has been an identified need.
“That’s a huge part of the veteran culture – to have that space where they can talk together,” Totah said.