The University of Southern Maine has been listed in the 2013 Military Friendly Schools List by G.I. Jobs magazine. Of the 12,000 higher education institutions evaluated, USM was among the 1,700 chosen for this list, which has been released since 2009 to inform veterans and current military members of schools nationwide that deliver the best experience for military students. Fifteen percent of all reviewed schools were selected.
The list is published by Victory Media, a company that releases annual lists of the top military friendly employers and franchises. Schools that appear on the Military Friendly Schools list are evaluated on the percentage of military students enrolled, military support available on campus, student tuition assistance, job placement rates, and military spouse policies.
USM currently has a total of 376 students using GI Bill benefits. This number includes 282 veterans and current service members and 94 eligible military family members.
In addition to USM’s various degree programs and flexible course offerings, there are many veteran-specific resources. The Veterans Resource Center located in the Woodbury Campus Center provides a welcoming environment for students to connect with fellow veterans and access information about available resources, such as veteran student organizations and support services on and off campus. The USM Veterans VISTA Project entered its second year with a new AmeriCorps VISTA joining this fall to implement programs and improve services for the USM student veteran population. A Veterans Support Group started in September and holds weekly meetings for veteran students.
There is also the USM Veterans Services Advisory Council, a group of staff, faculty, and students, as well as partners in the community, that meets regularly to serve USM veterans, service members, and their families by identifying their needs and developing programs and practices that support their transition to the classroom and encourage ongoing academic and personal success. The council is currently working on creating a more veteran specific orientation for incoming veterans, and organizing awareness training for faculty and staff. Recently, they began discussions to plan a recognition ceremony for graduating veterans.
Carolyn Cutting, the school certifying official for USM Veteran Services, explained that being recognized as a top Military Friendly School is a wonderful distinction, but it is the university’s daily dedication to both veterans and their family members that matters most. “USM has a long tradition of being military friendly, being on this list emphasizes this fact in a more formal way,” she said. “The importance of being on this list reflects the continued commitment of the university to both veterans and their family members and reminds us of the special contribution military students make to both the campus and local communities. We appreciate their valuable experiences and we honor their service.”