September 20, 2022
Saginaw Valley State University’s commitment to veterans and other military-affiliated students has once again been recognized by the Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency (MVAA). For the eighth consecutive year, SVSU has earned Gold-Level Veteran-Friendly Status with the MVAA. The recognition applies to the 2022-2023 academic year.
In notifying SVSU of this year’s recognition, Chris Taylor, education analyst with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, wrote, “Your persistence and refusal to accept ‘good enough’ is what drives you forward ― providing a shining example of what student services can be and should be for our military-connected students. As we continue to push forward and develop our own understanding of veteran services, our standards will likewise continue to evolve. I challenge you to strive to do more, to learn more, and to be more for the population we have all committed to serving.”
As part of SVSU’s continuous effort to serve military-affiliated students, the university now offers more opportunity for veterans and active-duty members of the military to transfer military education, experience and training toward college credits.
“Thanks to the diligent work of our colleges, the Office of the Registrar and the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, we have greatly expanded the opportunity for military training and education to be considered for college credit, and we now have more than 300 examples on the books. So if you want to see how your military background can be applied toward completing a degree from SVSU, we’d love to talk to you,” said Bethany Alford, SVSU director of Military Student Affairs, special assistant to the provost and dean of students.
The Veteran-Friendly Schools (VFS) program recognizes postsecondary institutions for their commitment to supporting the needs of veterans and military-connected students. Schools are granted Gold-, Silver- or Bronze-level status based on seven criteria:
Gold-level status is granted to institutions meeting six or seven of the criteria. Institutions meeting four of the criteria earn Silver-level status, and those meeting three of the criteria are granted Bronze-level status.
“We take great pride in our designation from Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency,” Alford said. “We work hard each year to come up with new ways to demonstrate our commitment to the academic success and overall feeling of belonging for our military-connected students. We have a deep-rooted belief that this population deserves the very best from SVSU and we will continue to come up with innovative ways to show our appreciation for the unique qualities they bring to our campus.”
Richard Sylvia, a mechanical engineering major living in Saginaw, and Brianna DeMeyers, a sociology and communication major from North Branch, work in the Military Student Affairs Office while attending SVSU. Both appreciate what the office offers to military-affiliated students.
Sylvia, a staff sergeant in the Air Force, came to SVSU after completing active duty. He now serves in the Air Force Reserve. As a nontraditional student – he had completed community college before enlisting in the military – Sylvia values SVSU’s office for the camaraderie it offers to students with experiences similar to his.
“I value the people,” he said. “Working in the office keeps me on campus, and there’s always somebody to meet or greet. People are hanging out more in the office; it’s a comfortable space where they’re free to talk about things.”
DeMeyers joined the Army Reserve after high school and came to SVSU that fall. She immediately turned to SVSU’s Military Student Affairs Office for help.
“They walked me through the application and funding process,” she said. “They do a good job of making sure you understand your benefits and what you’re getting.”
SVSU is one of 41 institutions to earn Gold-level status this year, according to the MVAA’s dashboard. Since the program was created in 2013, there has been a steady increase in the number of schools dedicated to enrolling student veterans.
SVSU’s Military Student Affairs office is dedicated to the needs and concerns of all military-affiliated students. The office provides a number of services designed to help both active and veteran military students navigate the university landscape to successfully complete their degree and transition into graduate school or the workforce. This year, 142 veterans are enrolled at SVSU.
Alford added that the Military Student Affairs office space was renovated last spring and includes more computer space, a private study room, a comfortable resource area, a private conference room, and a small kitchen area for refreshments.
SVSU also has been recognized with a Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges ranking and with the Military Friendly Gold Designation by the company VIQTORY and the university also participates in the Michigan Veteran Connector Program.