UH Named Military Friendly School for Support of Veterans

Transitioning from the military world into college life can be challenging for soldiers returning from duty. At the University of Houston, however, veterans can tap into a host of resources designed to ease their shift into an academic environment .

Recently, UH was recognized by G.I. Jobs magazine as a Military Friendly School, one that sufficiently facilitates the needs of veterans. The publication will include the university in its 2010 Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

"Since the end of World War II, military veterans have played a very important role at UH," said William Munson, UH dean of students. "Toward the end of that war, UH constructed a veterans' residential village on campus as a method of supporting and attracting returning G.I.s. It seems that, since then, the history of UH and its caring for the academic and personal success of veteran students have been indelibly intertwined."

Through collaborative efforts between its offices of admissions, registration and academic records and the Veterans Service Office directed by Air Force veteran Allen Grundy, UH has eased the enrollment process for veterans and provided them with information on benefits such as the G.I. Bill.

Kristopher Butler, program manager in registration and academic records, is a veteran of the U.S. Army. He is tasked with helping matriculate former soldiers into UH. He said that this semester, the university stepped up its efforts to help vets sign up for classes and understand their benefits.

"This fall, the university had a dedicated admissions counselor devoted exclusively to veterans," he said. "When veterans enroll at a college, it can be a complex process. They are often eligible for a host of benefits but need to be educated in how these programs work and which ones are right for them."

Also assisting vets before, during and after enrollment is the Veterans Services Office. With its 1,700-square-foot facility in the University Center, the office offers referrals for credit evaluation of military training and Veterans Administration health benefits. It also provides computer and Internet access, as well as phone and fax services. Additionally, the office hosts topical programs and lectures focused on veterans' issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. It also has participated in documenting the stories of vets through the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project.

"This office's mission is to mentor and help veterans," Grundy said. "We do this by offering academic resources and through our partnerships with a host of campus organizations."

The list of Military Friendly Schools was compiled through research that began in May 2008. G.I. Jobs polled more than 7,000 schools nationwide. Methodology, criteria and weighting for the list were developed with the assistance of an academic advisory committee consisting of educators and administrators from Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Toledo, Duquesne University, Coastline Community College and Lincoln Technical Institute. Criteria for making the Military Friendly Schools list included efforts to recruit and retain military and veteran students, results in recruiting military and veteran students and academic accreditations.

"It's an honor to be recognized by G.I. Jobs magazine," Butler said. "UH strives to accommodate the needs of all returning soldiers, so it is very gratifying to know its efforts are being noticed."