DePaul University has pledged to give more to those students who, at one point, have been willing to sacrifice it all.
While most 18-year-olds leave home for the first time to begin their lives as freshman, a growing number—a cross-section who also leave for four years or more—takes flight after high school graduation to pursue the duty of defending America's freedom. It's those who return from their U.S. Military service to earn degrees at DePaul that the school's officials are vowing to better serve.
DePaul’s president, Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, signed a pledge Sept. 27 at a “Valuing Veterans: How Our Campuses Can Better Serve Those Who Have Served” event held at the University Club of Chicago.
The document outlines three key components of how universities can better accommodate this special breed of scholar—Enhancing student veteran outreach and recognition, providing transition services, and establishing support policies and procedures.
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Within the components is a commitment to dedicate space for student veterans that will let them run student organizations unique to their needs. The document also focuses on the need to acquaint school resources with opportunities for veteran employment, as well as create an understanding between student veterans and staff.
DePaul's student veteran union president, Dennis Trejo, was among those at the Valuing Veterans event. A senior accounting manager and U.S. Navy active reservist, he sat in on a panel discussion that addressed the university's services for veterans.
“Understanding that there are certain needs for veterans and adding that human element of compassion by departments all over the university speaks strongly to the faculty here,” he said.
Recent improvements made to the Servicemen's Readjustment Act—known more commonly as the G.I. Bill—have made it easier than ever for veterans to attend school, officials have said. But the reality is transitioning to that new lifestyle is never simple.
Veterans return home with a different perspective on attending school, going to work and living life all together. And universities' acceptance of Veterans Affairs benefits doesn't always cut it, officials said, leading them, as well as representatives from dozens of other Illinois schools, to sign the Valuing Veterans pledge.
Having recently returned from deployment to the Middle East, Trejo said he understands first-hand the challenges his fellow veterans face when acclimating to a university setting.
Trejo added that expanding opportunities and speaking out for the betterment of services for veterans is a growing trend.
DePaul staff members recognize that, “in the wake of troops coming home, it is important for them to feel better about being at this university,” he said.