University Veterans Services is part of One Stop Student Services and is a holistic service environment for military members, veterans, and their families on campus. The unit consists of Carin Anderson, manager, four One Stop counselors: Jenni Hoffman, Amanda Erdmann, Josh Martin, and Bob Phaneuf, and five student workers.
The University Veterans Services team just before the 2011 Veterans Appreciation Day event.
In 2006, management recognized an increase in veteran students and the need to provide services for these individuals, so University Veterans Services was created. They partnered with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and the Higher Education Veterans Program Office to offer a comprehensive resource center to veterans.
The Veterans Services staff assists student veterans, military members, and their families with applying for education benefits, answering questions about benefits, and submitting enrollment information to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Student workers assist with answering calls, working with students, and printing paperwork needed for certifications. All student workers in the office are paid with Veterans Affairs Work Study funds.
The Veterans Services staff is a valuable resource to student veterans. Carin, Amanda, Bob, and Josh are veterans whose knowledge and experience in the military provides them the ability to help veterans through unique challenges. Though Jenni is not a veteran, her experience and expertise as a One Stop counselor proves invaluable to the office.
They also provide training for advisers and new faculty about military policies and to ensure that veterans are getting career advice that best match their skills. There is a Veterans Advisory Committee on campus composed of members from the Office for Student Affairs, Office of Admissions, Career Services, Boynton Health Services, Disability Services, the Student Veterans Association, and One Stop Student Services. This group meets to create and enhance campus initiatives and engagement opportunities for student veterans such as resume workshops to help veterans translate military experience to a working resume.
In Fall 2011, it was reported that approximately 750 veterans were using the GI Bill at the University. Annually, the unit hosts the Veterans Orientation Program, where veterans can learn about receiving benefits through the GI Bill and other resources available, and an annual Veterans Appreciation Event to honor student veterans on Veterans Day.
The University was recently announced as a Tillman Military Scholar University Partner with the Pat Tillman foundation recognized the unit and its staff for its support services of student veterans. The University of Minnesota is one of 14 institutions selected as a partner. Each University partner helps identify and select final candidates during the screening process and, upon selection of Tillman Military Scholars on their campus, supports the building of communities regionally throughout the U.S.
The University of Minnesota stands out as a leader in veteran services with staff that works hard to keep up with the complexities in the University Veterans Services office.
University Veterans Services Staff:
Carin Anderson, manager
Jenni Hoffman, senior One Stop counselor/veterans coordinator
Amanda Erdmann, One Stop counselor/veterans coordinator
Josh Martin, One Stop counselor/veterans coordinator
Bob Phaneuf, One Stop counselor/veterans coordinator
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of working in University Veterans Services is the complexity of the benefits. Every student has a different situation that could impact the benefits and sometimes this can be difficult when working with the Veterans Affairs (VA) to make sure the benefits are correct. The staff in our office can only do so much before we have to refer students to the VA, which can be a frustrating process for students. We try to assist them with this process the best we can.
You mentioned that you provide services to help veterans transition from a military setting to a university setting. What tools do you implement to ease this process?
University Veterans Services hosts Veterans Orientation at the beginning of each semester to help incoming student veterans understand their benefits, submit paperwork, and meet the staff. They learn about the benefits process which helps them through their career at the University of Minnesota. We have also held staff and faculty training so they understand what student veterans are going through.
What methods do you use to train faculty and staff on the military policies?
In the past, University Veterans Services has hosted workshops and training sessions for University staff and faculty. We have also created a training document for new faculty that is added to the new faculty flash drive so they have the information about the policies and benefits and have better knowledge about working with student veterans.
Discuss the impact the Pat Tillman Scholarship will have on the University Veterans Services.
We were recently notified about this are learning about the process. It's exciting to be recognized nationally and it has the potential to provide great opportunities for University of Minnesota students who apply.