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January 31, 2011

UMBC Joins Maryland Campus Compact for Student Veterans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS:

Eleanor Lewis – UMBC
Office: 410-455-2065
Email: elewis@umbc.edu

Mike Raia – Office of the Lt. Governor
Office: 410-260-3888
Cell: 443-336-3032


ANNAPOLIS, MD (January 31, 2011) – UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, joined his counterparts from community colleges and public four-year institutions in Annapolis today to sign the Maryland Campus Compact for Student Veterans. The Compact aims to improve on-campus services for student veterans. Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown – a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, a graduate of ROTC and the nation’s highest-ranking elected official to serve a tour of duty in Iraq – convened the meeting and worked closely with veteran advocates and higher education leaders to forge the important partnerships that will ease student veterans’ transition to campus life.

During his opening remarks, Brown cited a troubling essay published in the Community College of Baltimore County student newspaper detailing a student veteran’s war experience and the College’s controversial, but necessary, decision to remove the student until a psychological evaluation could be performed as one of several catalysts to create the Maryland Campus Compact for Student Veterans.

“Veterans bring a unique maturity and life experience to the classroom – an experience that in most cases enhances classroom discussions and benefits every student’s learning. But as each war is different, so is every generation of veteran,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “We have an obligation to serve those who served and we must do more to ease student veterans’ transitions from combat to campus. While the urgency to sign this agreement was sparked by an atypical and unfortunate incident on one of our campuses, I am proud that higher education leaders from across the state will work together to improve the services we provide to the men and women who served on our behalf.”

The Compact 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.

“The UMBC community is proud to welcome returning veterans to campus,” said President Hrabowski. “We know the transition back to the classroom can be challenging, and we are committed to supporting student veterans with access to the information and services they need to be successful.

Participating institutions pledge 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. The Compact 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 student veterans with necessary support from their peers who are also transitioning back into our communities.

Today’s veterans face unique challenges. Studies show that one out of 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. More than 15,000 Maryland veterans received GI Bill education benefits during the fall 2010 semester – including 219 at UMBC. 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.

Posted by elewis at January 31, 2011 11:19 AM