Student Veteran Center loses grant-funded position

Veteran career and academic advisor Paul Bridle recalled a student veteran that needed his high school transcripts to receive admission to Boise State, but the high school in his town had closed for renovations over the summer. Unsure of what to do, the student contacted Bridle to assist.

After contacting the school with no answer, Bridle decided to go straight to the mayor of the small town to see what could be done. The mayor found the transcripts for the student, and he now attends Boise State.

“There is no student veteran course catalog, but there are many different things that can affect how they complete their program, whether or not their benefits are late, or if they do their Declaration on time or how many months of benefits they have left,” Bridle said. “That is where my position comes into play.”

Leslie Webb, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, has worked with the Office of the Dean of Students and Veteran Service Center (VSC) to boost recruitment, academic support and certification services for veteran students.

One of the academic support systems instituted was Bridle’s temporary two-year, grant-funded position. A new position was instituted in the VSC this year for a second Certifying Official to help with paperwork and benefits for the veteran students enrolled at Boise State.

“The advisors in the central academic advising and career services offices, our online eCampus and academic colleges and departments are committed to helping veterans, active military and all students reach their academic goals on time and on budget,” Webb wrote in an email. “When we applied for the grant four years ago, we knew at that time — as did all staff who were hired using grant funding — that the grant was temporary and we’d eventually merge the work back into existing support programs and services on campus.”

Every day, Bridle sees a handful of veteran students with unique problems and questions regarding their future in higher education.

Matt Lester is a junior mechanical engineering major and works for Veteran Services on campus as a part of Work U. During his time at school, Lester has seen the direct impact of having a veteran career and academic advisor position versus not having one.

“[Veteran Services] is really the only area on campus that facilitates veterans and can really relate to them,” Lester said. “Not that other counselors can’t, but specifically veterans feel most comfortable coming there because pretty much everybody that works there is either a veteran themselves or is closely related to a veteran.”

During the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) student assembly meeting on Nov. 11, Lester presented a resolution that passed in assembly asking for the support of ASBSU and the student body in finding funds to keep the position for the future.

“I think it will have a pretty big effect [to]not see it continuing,” Lester said. “There are some very knowledgeable student veterans that work in work studies and that can help with some scenarios, but I don’t have the time or the knowledge to connect with as many people as Paul has on campus.”

The students that work in Veteran Services aid in helping veteran students with answering questions to the best of their abilities. Martin Schroeder is a senior interdisciplinary studies major who also works at the VSC and has had personal experience helping Bridle reach out to students.

A student had stopped showing up to classes he had perfect grades in and did not reach out to any of his professors. Bridle was asked to contact him, but Bridle passed the duty onto Schroeder, who had the same military occupational specialty as the student.

After contacting him, Schroeder realized the two men were in the same platoon several years apart and knew the same marine. The student was going through a rough time and, with the connection to Schroeder, was able to receive support.

“It was essentially like community outreach, except it was more proactive than that because he didn’t have to inquire,” Schroeder said. “It was everybody inquiring for him, which is a big problem that veterans have is they have a hard time talking to anybody regarding any real problems.”

Although there are no plans to keep the position of veteran career and academic advisor in place, Webb listed other ways the VSC is looking to be expanded.

In May, a new promise scholarship program launched for military students, and more online options became available to both Boise State’s physical and online presence of students. A large majority of the online presence comes from students at Gowen Field and Mountain Home Air Force. Another grant pays for the Veterans Upward Bound program that is designed to help prepare veteran students to succeed in higher education and beyond, according to Webb.

“If [someone]knew a student was struggling, I know they would probably stop and try to help them,” Bridle said. “But relying on not having a designated person to respond to the need, I think certainly it can limit some of the success that we will see from those veteran students.”

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