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Submission For The Record of Jennifer J. Suchan, Assistant Registrar and Coordinator, Veterans Student Services, University of Northern Iowa

 University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA
October 21, 2011

The Honorable Marlin Stutzman, Chair
House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity

The Honorable Bruce Braley, Ranking Member
House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity

Dear Congressman Stutzman and Congressman Braley:

The University of Northern Iowa commends the Committee for its commitment to economic opportunity for returning veterans. Education is directly related to an individual's economic opportunity. On behalf of the University, I would like to share with you our commitment to veterans, as well as provide for your consideration some recommendations to further assist returning veterans.

The University of Northern Iowa established the Veterans Student Services Committee in fall 2009. The 21 members include students, faculty and staff, officers with the ROTC program, and members of the Cedar Valley community. Preference for appointments are given to individuals who are veterans, who have particular research or content knowledge about veterans' matters, or who have professional responsibilities related to military service.

In the two years since its creation, the committee has:

  • Conducted a survey to determine the needs and desires of student veterans
  • Launched the UNI Student Veterans Association
  • Initiated participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program
  • Initiated campus-wide recognition activities for Veterans Day

In July 2011, I was appointed Coordinator, Veterans Student Services (VSSC). Among my duties is serving as Chair of the Veteran Student Services Committee. The following goals have been set for the 2011-12 academic year:

  • Conduct a faculty and staff awareness survey
  • Create a university veterans-specific website
  • Establish a faculty/staff-to-student veteran mentoring program
  • Launch UNI VETS (UNI Veterans Educating Tomorrow's Students)
  • Add elements into the existing orientation programming to meet the specific needs of veterans

The VSSC is comprised of four subcommittees: (I) Communications and Outreach; (2) Education and Assessment; (3) Transitions and Retention; and (4) UNI Student Veterans Association. Each subcommittee has a number of goals and initiatives that they work to accomplish. Today's hearing sheds light on some additional goals that could be pursued: A job fair and on-campus interviews specific to student veterans; resume-critiquing and mock interviews to aid student veterans in translating their military skills, training, and experience in civilian terms; and encouragement of student-veterans to partake in the many internship opportunities that are available.

UNI is also proud to announce that it was included in the 2012 Military Friendly Schools List published by G.I. Job magazine. The list recognizes the top 15 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools that are supporting the educational pursuits of veterans. Criteria for inclusion in the Military Friendly Schools List include a strong commitment to recruiting, retaining, and providing financial, academic, and social services to student veterans.

Recommendations:

We are committed at all levels to supporting the transition from "boots to books," and as a result, support measures that contribute to a more seamless transition from military to civilian life. Colleges and universities should be urged to provide an office or staff person to serve as coordinator for veterans’ services and to expand the availability of training on veterans' needs and issues for campus officials, faculty and staff.

We would be pleased to meet with you and members of the committee to discuss further these comments, as well as to respond to questions and provide additional information.

Sincerely,

Jennifer J. Suchan
Assistant Registrar and Coordinator
Veterans Student Services