COLLEGE STATION, Texas – A new branch of the Student Government Association (SGA) at Texas A&M University, with the specific purpose of helping Aggie veterans, plans the first national military veteran conference in higher education Friday and Saturday (Feb. 7-8) at the university.
The Veteran Affairs Committee of SGA planed the “Operation Veteran Success” conference to provide the opportunity to network with national veteran support organizations and veterans enrolled in higher education from across the country.
The two-day conference will be in the Memorial Student Center and opens at 8 a.m. Friday with a welcome followed by the career fair at 8:30 a.m. The deadline to register is Wednesday (Feb. 5). Late registrations and walk-ups will be accepted on a case-by-case basis and as space permits.
The first such conference in higher education, it is designed to improve or build a veteran’s career preparation skills, as well as their educational careers, through the use of a national career fair, workshops and keynote speakers in various topics.
“We specifically target those military veterans who are enrolled in or recently graduated from (within one year) any university or college program, which includes two-year colleges, online programs and others,” says Taylor Sessions, vice president of SGA’s Veteran Affairs Committee.
Sessions, an Aggie veteran himself, says Operation Veteran Success is important in that it provides military veterans the opportunity to connect with national and regional companies that want to hire military veterans with some form of higher education under their belt.
When this idea was born, he adds, it was during the time when the big news story was the 30 percent unemployment rate military veterans aged 18-24 were facing, as well as the military veteran unemployment rate overall being much higher than the national average.
“We also connect the veterans who attend with military support organizations. This is also important because these organizations like the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, or Wounded Warrior Project, The American Legion, and The Marine Corps League exist to help and support those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines transition to a civilian life in the most normal way possible,” Sessions points out.
He adds that, with budget cuts, economic hard times and massive backlogs, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs are struggling to maintain with what they have, and that's where these support organizations come in and help by assisting those who may have slipped through the cracks or are tied down by government bureaucracy.
Sessions lists the main corporate sponsors for the conference as Dell, Union Pacific, HirePurpose, Chevron, Tyson Foods, Deloitte, Halliburton, Altria, Accenture and Wells Fargo. The non-profit sponsors include Wounded Warrior Project, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and The Pat Tillman Foundation. Texas A&M sponsors include the Veteran’s Resource and Support Center and the Student Government Association.
SGA's Department of Veteran Affairs was created to support military veterans in higher education by hosting military-friendly events, writing pro-military and pro-veteran legislation to garner student body support for certain issues, working with state and federal officials on legislation affecting military education benefits and assisting in recruiting military veterans to Texas A&M.