Spurred by enhanced benefits under the GI Bill, tuition exemptions under Texas’ Hazelwood Act and troop reductions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the significant increase reflects the efforts made by the A&M System and its 11 member universities to ensure that veterans and dependent students receive the maximum benefits available for their service and successfully transition to civilian life.
“This rapid and sustained increase in veteran and dependent students in system universities reflects a national trend that is especially heightened within the Texas A&M System,” said Michael D. McKinney, chancellor of the A&M System. “We’re going to continue to do everything we can to give these exceptional young men and women the Texas-sized welcome and the educational path to success that they have earned through service to our country. We owe them this and so much more.”
Each of the 11 universities within the A&M System has achieved military-friendly status through certification by the Service members Opportunity Colleges, the nation’s leading military-friendly monitoring program. Certification qualifications are based upon how well the college serves veterans through reduced academic residency requirements, credit offerings for military training and experience, and the adoption of a Military Bill of Rights.
Since its creation in 2008, the A&M System’s Project Military Friendly has significantly expanded communications, networking and coordination among system universities and state agencies, and with other universities and university systems in Texas. Annual symposiums bring together veterans services coordinators and top state leaders on veterans’ issues, and last year the A&M System launched a military-friendly listserv that now has more than 140 participants from universities and veteran service providers around the state.
Project Military Friendly also is working to implement findings from a special report on veterans in higher education issued in September 2010 by the State Auditor’s Office, and to enhance collaborations with affiliated programs such as TexVet: Partners Across Texas, a multi-agency initiative supported by the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Round Rock.
“I am very proud of the way our system members have come together to help make the transition into college life easier for our veterans,” said Rod Davis, A&M System veterans coordinator. “Our veterans have given so much for this country, and this is our way to thank them for their service and to help them succeed in the next phases of their lives.”
Examples of veterans outreach efforts across the A&M System include:
-- Texas A&M University is one of four partners nationwide selected for participation in the Tillman Military Scholars Program, which provides significant scholarships to active-duty service members and their families. The Texas A&M Corps of Cadets also continues to be a significant provider of officers for the U.S. military.
-- West Texas A&M University uses a student-created veterans network to help military students connect for answers to questions on benefits, scholarships, counseling, and advising. The network also is responsible for the creation of a veterans lounge on campus.
-- Texas A&M University-Central Texas, located adjacent to Fort Hood, is one of seven schools in the United States to have a counselor from the Department of Veterans Affairs on campus for military students and their dependents.
About the A&M System
The A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $3.3 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, seven state agencies and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System members educate more than 120,000 students and make more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Externally funded research expenditures exceed $730 million and help drive the state’s economy.