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Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012

NMU Pilot Site for MI-VetSuccess Program

The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding with Northern Michigan University, establishing the university as the host site for a new campus-based outreach service, MI-VetSuccess, a pilot program supporting student veterans. The initial program will reach out to almost 800 students who have recently served in the military and are now enrolled at higher educational institutions in the Upper Peninsula. Signing the MOU at the podium are Jason Allen, senior deputy director, Michigan DMVA, and NMU President David Haynes.

“We are proud to launch MI-VetSuccess as partners with the USDVA vocational rehabilitation program, to assist veterans on campus with enrolling in the VA health care system or with filing for disability benefits,” said Allen. “This program will provide necessary services to on-campus veterans and provide them with information, support and access to benefits they need to successfully transition from military to college, and eventually into civilian employment.”

MI-VetSuccess is offered by the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs through the Michigan Veterans Coalition. The program establishes six geographic regions across the state, with one college or university in each region designated as the hub from which a designated Campus Counselor operates. Each host college or university, by signing an MOU, commits to providing space and resources necessary for conducting direct veteran outreach and advocacy.

The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs chose Northern Michigan University to pilot the program because of the commitment of President David Haynes and his staff at Northern Michigan University to supporting outreach services to veterans at campuses across the Upper Peninsula.

“Helping veterans transition from the military into educational programs is a privilege Northern Michigan University takes very seriously. That is why being a part of this pilot program is so exciting for our campus.  It’s especially important that this type of assistance is available in the Upper Peninsula – an area with a very high rate of military service -- so that veterans and veteran students throughout the U.P. have local access to this kind of help,” said Haynes. “I’d like to thank Governor Rick Snyder and Jason Allen for their effort to bring this innovative program to the Upper Peninsula.”

Veterans on campus say that this program is timely and necessary. “What a benefit this will be to have a veteran rep at the university to give further assistance to students working their way through the benefits process. Every student veteran has a little different situation which makes choosing from the benefits available difficult at times," said Daniel Braund of Marquette (right), an NMU senior criminal justice major. Braund is a staff sergeant in the Michigan National Guard 107th EN Battalion. He served nine years of active duty with the 101st in Ft. Campbell and did three tours in Iraq and one to Afghanistan with the 1430th En Company of Marquette.

In addition to advocating for Michigan veterans at Northern Michigan University, service officers will provide advice and assistance to student veterans at neighboring or nearby colleges and universities which have demonstrated their commitment to the program by accomplishing an MOU with DMVA promising their active cooperation and participation. The full program is expected to be in place statewide in January 2013.