Conference Builds on Initiative Led by Lt. Governor to Improve On-Campus Services for Student Veterans
TOWSON, Md. (September 23, 2011) – This morning, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown welcomed attendees to the Student Veterans Resource Providers Conference, hosted by Towson University. The conference was presented by the State of Maryland’s College Collaboration for Student Veterans, an agreement, launched by the Lt. Governor in January, between 21 community colleges and public four-year institutions in Maryland to improve on-campus services for veteran students. The Collaboration calls on Maryland’s higher education community to do more for the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces and seeks to ensure the educational success of veterans who choose to return to a Maryland school through greater awareness and understanding of the unique challenges student veterans face.
Participating institutions in Maryland’s College Collaboration for Student Veterans pledged to designate an office or staff person as a ‘go to’ for all student veterans to help them navigate everything from GI Bill paperwork to behavioral health counseling. Today’s conference allowed participants to obtain complete and up-to-date information on all aspects of veterans benefits and resources, share current best practices on serving veteran students on campus, and develop a statewide network for student veteran liaisons to strengthen the commitment to serving those who serve.
“We launched the Maryland College Collaboration for Student Veterans to bring higher education leaders from across the state together to improve the services we provide to the men and women who have bravely served on our behalf,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “Today’s conference builds on that effort by providing up-to-date resources and information to those who work most closely with Maryland’s student veterans in order to ease their transition from combat to campus.”
Today’s veterans face unique challenges. Studies show that one out of every five veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are also more likely than veterans of any previous conflict to attempt suicide. More than 22,000 Iraq-Afghanistan veterans have returned to Maryland in recent years, and thousands more are coming home. As more veterans enroll in college and training courses, colleges and universities – especially community colleges – must make concerted efforts to better understand the behavioral health challenges many veterans face.
The Collaboration agreement requires campus officials to provide training for faculty, staff and student leadership to promote greater awareness of veteran issues; and it encourages campuses to create student veteran organizations to provide incoming veteran students with necessary support from their peers who are also transitioning back into our communities.
Lt. Governor Brown, a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and the nation’s highest-ranking elected official to have served a tour of duty in Iraq, leads the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s efforts to provide veterans with better services and resources. Since taking office in 2007, Lt. Governor Brown championed successful efforts to pass the Veterans Behavioral Health Act, protect veterans business loans programs and fully fund the Iraq and Afghanistan Scholarship Program. Earlier this year, the Lt. Governor launched the Mil2FedsJobs web portal, located on the Maryland Workforce Exchange (MWEjobs.maryland.gov), the first of its kind in any state to directly match transitioning service members with careers in the Federal Government.