Service to Veterans Earns UM-Flint Recognition from Pat Tillman Foundation

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The University of Michigan-Flint has been selected to partner with the Tillman Military Scholars program, which provides educational scholarships for veteran and active service members and their dependents. UM-Flint was one of five new universities named by the Pat Tillman Foundation for the 2011-2012 academic year.

The newly-named schools bring to 12 the number of universities across the country who will partner with the scholars program. UM-Flint is the only university in Michigan to receive the designation.

"The Tillman Military Scholars program invests in veterans and their families through education and community," stated Hunter I Riley, Pat Tillman Foundation director of programs. "By working with partner institutions like the University of Michigan-Flint, who have shown ingenuity in delivering veteran-specific support services, we are able to funnel a ready source of assistance onto a campus which already demonstrates a culture of support for student veterans and military families."

"The University of Michigan-Flint recognizes the tremendous sacrifice that our veterans and their families have made in serving our country," said Chancellor Ruth Person. "We are honored to be a Tillman Military Scholar University Partner, and the scholarships that will result from this partnership will allow UM-Flint to provide even more opportunities for returning veterans."

According to the foundation, university partners are selected based on their innovative program support services and proven culture of community for military families. As a University Partner, each institution conducts outreach to its veteran student population and actively participates in the selection process. Upon selection of Tillman Military Scholars on campus, each then supports the building of community among these students, strengthening their academic and personal experience.

UM-Flint increased its commitment to veterans a few years ago with the creation of the Student Veterans Support Program (SVSP) to address the needs of returning veterans. The program offers a centralized source of information and support for veterans as they strive to transition seamlessly.

Since the inception of the SVSP, a number of important goals have been reached. They include:

  • – A Veterans Resource Center was dedicated on Veterans Day 2009. It is a place where veterans can meet daily, study and network, and receive help with a variety of issues.
  • – Creation of a new orientation session, designed specifically for veteran students.
  • – Development and launch of a website,
  • – Increased support for veterans who have previously taken college-level coursework.
  • – Charter membership of SALUTE National Veterans Honor Society.

UM-Flint relied on input from returning veterans to establish many of the programs, and is now the home of the Student Veterans of America-Flint Chapter. The newly-elected president of the National SVA is a UM-Flint student.

In 2008, understanding the challenges experienced by military families and the increased need for resources, the foundation's board of directors led by Marie Tillman, Pat's widow, refocused its mission: to invest in veterans and their families through education and community. With the Tillman Military Scholars program, the Pat Tillman Foundation is dedicated to supporting educational opportunities for service members and military families by filling the financial gaps left by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Tillman Military Scholarships cover not only direct study-related expenses such as tuition and fees, but also other needs including housing and child care. To date, 111 Tillman Military Scholars representing 28 states and attending 46 academic institutions nationwide have been awarded totaling over $1.3 million.

UM-Flint's commitment to veterans also led to recognition last summer. G.I. Jobs magazine named the university as a Military Friendly School for 2011. According to the magazine, the honor ranks the university in the top 15% of all colleges, universities, and trade schools nationwide. A special Military Friendly plaque now hangs in the Veterans Center.

UM-Flint was listed as one of the 100 schools in the United States that are "Best for Vets" by Edge Magazine.

In May, the University of Michigan-Flint hosted the mid-west region's annual conference for the Student Veterans of America.  Over 150 students from eight states converged on the UM-Flint campus for a two-day conference to learn about the variety of benefits available to them, how to be more engaged in their communities, and be successful in their academic and career pursuits.

Just two days before the Tillman Foundation's announcement, two UM-Flint groups, Kappa Sigma Fraternity and the Student Veterans of America (SVA) joined with Habitat for Humanity to dedicate a newly renovated house that was presented to a deserving veteran. The six-month project was completed at a cost of $65,000.

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