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  • Organizations Support Student Veterans at NDSU

  • Organizations Support Student Veterans at NDSU

    Organizations Support Student Veterans at NDSU

    When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G. I. Bill into law on June 22nd, 1944, it was hoped that this legislation would assist G.I.s returning from overseas service in World War II (and the generations of veterans to follow) to achieve upward social mobility. Formally known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, the most popular section of the law has been the section that provides for educational benefits and job training. It is estimated that nine million veterans pursued a college education within the first five years of the law’s existence ( G.I. Bill - Definition, Forever GI Bill & Benefits - HISTORY).

    On the campus of North Dakota State University in Fargo, there are two organizations that support student veterans (regardless if they currently serve, have honorably separated, or are retired) in their quest to prepare themselves for the next step in their lives. These organizations, the Veteran Alliance Organization (VALOR) and the Bison Student Veterans (BSV), focus on assisting the student veteran throughout their education process. BSV is a local chapter of Student Veterans of America, which provides advocacy for student veteran interests at the national level, and supportive resources to its membership.

    Veterans Alliance Organization (VALOR)
    The Veterans Alliance Organization (VALOR) is led by an Advisory Board that includes representatives from local veteran organizations, staff, faculty, students, and alumni.  VALOR supports an ally network that consists of staff, faculty, and administration that have committed to being a resource for student veterans. VALOR’s mission is to “improve campus climate for student veterans and enhance their success”.

    Dr. Carol Cwiak, an associate professor of Emergency Management, has led the organization since 2016. The organization works with campus and community partners on a variety of initiatives and events and maintains a website, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and publishes a monthly newsletter during the academic year. One important initiative that VALOR facilitated was NDSU’s participation in the 8 Keys for Veterans’ Success, an initiative developed in collaboration through the Departments of Education, Veterans Affairs, and Defense. The 8 Keys focus on key elements that support student veterans and enhance their academic success.

    Speaking on behalf of the organization, Cwiak shared, “VALOR is honored to be able to engage in student veterans’ academic experience and success. We view NDSU as the place where the promise and intent of the educational benefits in the G.I. bill are brought to life”. For more information on VALOR, please visit their website at: www.ndsu.edu/valor.

    Bison Student Veterans (BSV)
    The Bison Student Veterans is an organization comprised of NDSU students who have either served or are currently serving in the military. These military-related students encompass a wide variety of socioeconomic factors. The members represent multiple colleges and majors on campus and bring a business-like approach to the campus. Their mission statement is “to provide Veterans and Current Serving Military Members with the support and advocacy needed to successfully transition to college, excel academically, and gain post-graduation employment”.

    Jim Stoddard, a retired Air Force veteran and assistant director of the Veterans Educational Training program at NDSU, is the organization’s advisor and has seen the organization advance in leaps and bounds over the past 4 years. “It’s easy to feel out-of-place on a college campus when you’re a non-traditional-aged veteran trying to readjust to the civilian academic environment, or a student serving in the National Guard that’s stressed about the next or last activation.  The BSV group has been a great way for military students to get together with other people they can identify with, that they can bounce ideas off, and feel supported all the way through to graduation” said Stoddard.


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