Veteran services

PNW Veteran Services helps student veterans develop a new mission

August 5, 2022

The transition from the military to higher education can be a struggle for many veterans. Fortunately, Purdue University Northwestern (PNW) Veterans Services is committed to building a community of support and resources for those who served in the armed forces.

“We recognize that veterans come to Purdue Northwest with unique needs and deserve an environment where they feel supported in both service and camaraderie,” said Elizabeth Babcock Depew, Vice Chancellor for Benefits Management. enrollment and student affairs. “I hope Purdue Northwest veterans understand the deep appreciation we have for their service and sacrifice, as well as feel supported in pursuing their academic endeavors and receiving their veterans benefits. “

“One of the main goals of Veterans Services is to make the transition to college less stressful for veterans,” says Anthony Pilota, Veterans Services Coordinator at PNW. “There are many benefits for veterans and there is a certain order in which they can use these benefits to make them last longer. It’s important that they use the right perks, in the right order for their educational goals.

A peer support network

Loss of a network and support structure, age, isolation and lack of purpose are just some of the challenges veterans face when attending college. Veteran students are typically older than the average undergrad, have families, full-time jobs, or face loss of income and loss of purpose, Pilota says.

“Many veterans struggle to find a support system while in college,” says Pilota, a US Marine Corps veteran. “When you’re in the military, your support network is everyone in your unit. When you leave the military, you lose that support network. Veteran Services provides student veterans with a safe place to connect with other veterans and the support and resources they need to succeed in college.

I was able to meet and connect with other student veterans who were willing to help me. The biggest benefit was the camaraderie, just having the moral support when I needed it.

Caleb Vazquez, veteran sophomore at PNW

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Veterans’ Lounges, at the Hammond and Westville campuses, provide a safe space for veteran students to talk and connect around shared experiences. “It helps them understand that they’re not alone in the process,” says Pilota. “There are other veterans who understand them and can help them.”

Caleb Vazquez, a veteran sophomore at PNW, found himself in trouble midway through his first semester. “I have a family, a full-time job and showing up to school was getting really tough,” says the former Army specialist and Portage native. “I started going to the veterans lounge to do my homework and it changed my semester. I was able to meet and connect with other veteran students who were willing to help me. The biggest benefit was the camaraderie, just having the moral support when I needed it.

In addition to fairs, Veterans Services offers free one-on-one tutoring, counseling on post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, and community-building events throughout the year, including including a veterans ball.

Advocacy for student veterans

Three PNW students walk on a sidewalk

Veteran students find support and camaraderie at PNW.

Pilota’s direct experience as a student veteran helps her advocate on behalf of PNW student veterans. PNW Veteran Services is hosting a workshop for faculty and staff called Green Zone Coaching. The training program helps create a more inviting and understanding campus for veteran students.

“This is a workshop where we discuss the experience of veterans as it relates to their transition to higher education,” says Pilota. “The goal is to educate faculty and staff about the issues and concerns of student veterans, how to identify and help someone who might be in trouble, and some of the unique requirements of veterans education benefits.”

Veterans Services also helps with referrals and accommodations for extended testing time. “Many veteran students require extended testing time due to their military training,” says Pilota. “In the military, you’re trained to focus on several things at once – who’s coming through the door, who’s behind you, what’s going on in the corner of the room. It makes it much harder to focus on one specific thing like taking a test.

Pilota also worked with the former Army Brigadier. Gen. James Bauerle, vice president of the Indiana Military/Veteran Coalition, to pass legislation allowing veterans from states adjacent to Indiana to pay in-state tuition at PNW or any Indiana public university.

A new goal

Caleb Vazquez

Caleb Vazquez, a former US Army specialist and veteran sophomore, is studying business management at PNW.

Pilota believes PNW Veteran Services should be the first stop for student veterans. “I want them to understand that there’s a support network here at Purdue Northwest,” Pilota says. “A network that will help them connect so they don’t struggle or feel alone while in college.” Our main objective is to give them a new purpose and a new mission.

Vazquez, who is pursuing a business degree in management, agrees with Pilota that veteran students should take advantage of the benefits offered by PNW Veteran Services. “The opportunity to connect with other veterans gave me an experience similar to the teamwork and camaraderie I had when I was in the military,” he says. “I feel like part of a crew. It’s as if I had found my team.