The University of Wisconsin has returned to a list of the nation’s most Military Friendly Schools.
According to a UW statement, Victory Media’s 2013 list named the top 15 percent universities, colleges and trade schools in the country that are most supportive to veterans and other military service members.
The list was made in recognition of schools’ social programs, recruitment and academic support, the statement said.
UW was first named to the list in 2008. Assistant Dean of Students for Veterans John Bechtol, who came to UW that same year, said since then he has seen great improvements in terms of veteran support.
“I was hired in fall 2008 and did an initial assessment of services offered,” Bechtol said in an email to The Badger Herald. “There was little outreach or proactive contact made with veterans on campus.”
However, Bechtol said communication with veterans before and after admission has increased. Currently, veterans receive information concerning on- and off-campus resources as well as veteran-related events for the coming semester, Bechtol said.
According to Bechtol, in addition to holding career fairs and business centers for the veterans, the university is also providing such information outreach through the classroom.
“In an effort to educate our campus veteran population on benefits, the Federal Veteran Affairs, Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs, etc., we’re now offering a one-credit course for veterans which educates them on these topics,” Bechtol said.
Despite these programs, however, Bechtol said he still finds there is room for improvement at UW.
Vets for Vets President Nick Faus agreed with Bechtol on that notion, finding although the university has been very supportive, improvements can be made in the financial aid department.
According to Faus, UW has tried to “steamroll” the Yellow Ribbon Program, which helps veterans pay for school in times when federal benefits do not cover them completely.
The Yellow Ribbon Program, which according to Faus is offered at all other Big Ten schools, is currently capped and will not be taking any more students due to financing.
Bechtol agreed with Faus, saying he hopes to see the Yellow Ribbon Program return to UW without limitations. Currently, the program has 28 undergraduate, three law and eight graduate school slots, Bechtol said.
Despite the financing limitations, Faus said he does not find the “military-friendly” ranking to be undeserved, adding the university has a lot of redeeming qualities and support systems for veterans.
“It’s hard to say that the ranking is unmerited because they do a lot of things that target veterans,” Faus said, citing his positive experiences with the McBurney Disability Resource Center. “They do appreciate the veterans, being older students who have gone through different experiences than the rest of the students, they respect.”
Currently,more than 600 veterans are enrolled at UW.