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VCU’s commitment to military veterans garners recognition from Virginia Department of Veterans Services

John Newby, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, presents a Training and...
John Newby, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, presents a Training and Education Alliance certification to Stephen Ross, director of Military Student Services, and Daphne Rankin, Ph.D., associate vice provost for the Division of Strategic Enrollment Management. (Courtesy photo)

Virginia Commonwealth University has received Training and Education Alliance certification from the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. The certification is presented to institutions that demonstrate a commitment to veteran and military students.

VCU is one of 14 TEA-certified colleges and universities. TEA assists institutions by providing training on veteran cultural competency and military and veteran student recruitment, retention and employment.

The certification recognizes the university’s efforts to support veteran and military students, said Stephen Ross, director of Military Student Services at VCU. Ross’ office processes GI Bill benefits and supports veterans on campus.

“It's not just about what our office does, it's about support in financial aid, and what scholarships we provide, admissions, and all the other support organizations around VCU,” Ross said. “It's schoolwide recognition.” 

Ten percent of Virginia’s population are veterans, and VCU’s Military Student Services office has taken several major steps in recent years to enhance support for military veterans. The university’s Green Zone program has become a national model for helping military students navigate college. Military Student Services, the School of the Arts and the nonprofit organization CreatiVets have collaborated to help men and women whose lives were scarred by war use art to help process their experiences. In November, VCU announced the creation of the VCU Military Veterans Alumni Council.

These programs are part of a universitywide push to help student veterans succeed at VCU, Ross said.

“There's no one simple solution,” he said. “Each veteran is an individual and we need arts, engineering, admissions, faculty and staff support across all curriculum. It's a family that has to reach out and support these people so that somebody can make a difference in a veteran's life that will keep them here and help them move toward graduation.”