SVSU has been distinguished with veteran-friendly status for the eighth consecutive year.
To maintain this status, the university must keep a healthy and involved relationship with its veterans and the services the university provides for them.
Bethany Alford has been the director of Military Student Affairs since May of 2017 and said it is vital for veterans to have the services and resources they need at SVSU, which is why a veteran-friendly university status is integral to SVSU’s success and reputation.
“Navigating VA benefits can be daunting and overwhelming,” she said. “The transition from the military to the civilian sector can also be challenging. Add navigating higher education to that transition and you have the perfect storm. By maintaining our veteran-friendly status, we demonstrate our commitment to student veterans and their academic success.”
Alford explained the benefits that Military Student Affairs offers to veterans:
“We support students from their initial interest in SVSU all the way through graduation and beyond,” she said. “This office is responsible for the timely certification of VA education benefits, processing of Federal Tuition Assistance and resource referrals (both on and off campus). We also host many programs throughout the year to bring awareness and show appreciation to this population.”
Alford also said that the designation of being a military-friendly university is made possible by staff and colleagues around campus, and that it is a group effort and supportive environment she is very appreciative of.
“I am most proud of the support this office receives from leadership and all [the] offices around campus,” she said. “Again, it isn’t just a label to be veteran or military friendly, it is action, and these are the actions that SVSU does to show our deep appreciation for all these students have sacrificed.”
Jake Kokowicz graduated from SVSU last May with a bachelor’s degree in social work. He is currently in the SVSU graduate program and works in the Military Student Affairs (MSA) office at SVSU, a position he has held for four years.
“I believe it is essential for SVSU to uphold its veteran-friendly status because it will bring future military-connected students to SVSU for their education,” he said. “Transitioning from active duty to college life is complex, and the MSA office assists with that process phenomenally. Actively reserving military students also experience occasional hardship, which the MSA office helps greatly.”
A veteran himself, Kokowicz understands the value of a university that supports its students who serve their country.
“Veterans have chosen to give their lives to protect this country from foreign and domestic enemies,” he said. “I believe that colleges that support their decision to protect us can be a small way of paying them back for their sacrifice.”
Kokowicz also expressed the pride he feels in SVSU’s commitment to veteran services.
“I am most proud of the assistance offered to military-connected students, the experience within the office, and the unique military atmosphere that all veterans struggle to find outside of active duty,” he said. “If it wasn’t for SVSU’s Military Student Affairs office, I would not be where I am today with the GPA I have. I owe a lot of my accomplishments to this office and am honored to be able to call myself an SVSU alum.”