Temple creates military-friendly environment to serve those who served
As U.S. servicemen and women continue to serve in combat areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan and non-combat arenas all over the world, the number of soldiers making the transition back to civilian life has increased substantially.
While many veterans have returned to jobs and other responsibilities, many others have opted to take the opportunity to return to the classroom.
At Temple, the number of self-identifying veterans utilizing the benefits of the federal post-9-11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program has increased remarkably, more than doubling from 198 during the Spring 2010 semester to 484 in Spring 2011. And that doesn’t even include hundreds of students utilizing benefits through the Montgomery GI Bill, dependents of veterans and members of the National Guard. Nearly 700 Temple faculty and staff also identify themselves as veterans.
The notable increase in veterans deciding to choose Temple is the result of a concerted effort by departments throughout the university to reach out to veterans and provide the resources they need to transition from the military base to the campus, according to William Parshall, executive director of the Ambler and Center City campuses, who co-chairs a Veterans Task Force comprising administrators from across Temple.
“What we’ve been able to do in 18 months is raise awareness about veterans’ issues and direct resources in multiple areas at the same time,” said Parshall. “We’ve placed experienced staff in key student departments to support veteran students — we’re not simply focused on admitting veterans but ensuring that we serve their unique needs while they are here.”
In Fall 2010, Laura Reddick — who has 21 years of experience in adult and transfer student recruitment at Temple — was appointed associate director of Adult and Veteran Student Recruitment. In the past year, Reddick said, Temple has been able to “substantially extend our outreach with the help of the Provost’s Office.” The Temple Veteran Affairs web site has been recreated from the ground up as a comprehensive online resource for veterans.
“Everything that we are undertaking is to ensure that veteran students can make a smooth transition into the classroom,” said Reddick. “We’ve asked an advisor from each of the university’s schools and colleges to become a point person for veterans. The bottom line is to make the college experience a great experience so that our veterans can be as successful as possible to support their academic and career goals.”
For the past three years, Temple has been designated a “military-friendly school” by G.I. Jobs Magazine, a designation given to just 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools nationwide. In Fall 2011, Temple Ambler formally opened a Veteran Students Suite as a one-stop shop for meetings with university representatives and information on support services.
Temple’s veteran students are also making important contributions to the university community, taking on leadership roles, providing support for other veterans and shaping student life.
With the support of university administrators and fellow veterans, Fox School of Business student and U.S. Army Sgt. Hyman Lee founded the Temple Veterans Association in Fall 2010. The last two Ambler Campus Student Government presidents — Jonathan Quiceno in 2010 and current president David Diaz — are both U.S. military veterans. The newly established Ambler Student Media Bureau, a branch of TUTV, is also being steered by a student veteran. And those are just a few examples.
“When I returned from overseas, the GI Bill allowed me to pay for school and pursue a lifelong interest in film and media,” said Montes Carrasquillo, an Army National Guard veteran who serves as a media content coordinator at Ambler. “Temple has created this terrific information network for veterans where you can find out about changes to your benefits and discover opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have known about.”
“Veteran students just coming (to Temple) need to make these connections with university administrators and with the Temple Veterans Association,” adds Diaz, a U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran who continues to serve in the reserves. “If you have a question, you are very likely not the first person to have that question — there are people throughout Temple who want to help veterans succeed.”
To make Southeastern Pennsylvania veterans aware of the opportunities at Temple, the university hosts outreach meetings with military groups and community colleges throughout the region. Monthly information sessions are held at Temple University Center City, with periodic sessions held at the Main and Ambler campuses. In addition, online information sessions are held to connect with veterans all over the world.
“They put their lives on the line to serve our country,” said Reddick. “We want to empower them with information so that they can make informed decisions with the most up-to-date information available.”
Temple will honor active duty personnel at Military Appreciation Day, to be held on November 11 on the university's Main and Ambler campuses.