IU South Bend recently received the 2021-22 Military Friendly designation; it is the first Indiana University campus to receive this recognition.
The bronze-level designation was awarded for the campus’s self-guided assessment of a number of important factors to veterans including academic policies, admissions, financial assistance, and culture.
“Our student veterans enrich our campus with unique perspectives and life experiences, enhancing our community,” said Chancellor Susan Elrod. “We are proud to support them with excellent services and programs during their academic journey.”
Savanna Hebert-Annis, assistant director of the Office of Veteran Student Services, spearheaded efforts to complete the required survey, which allowed them to show the office’s and the campus community’s growth and commitment to student veterans.
Hebert-Annis said there are between 300 and 400 veterans at IUSB per semester. “Our office is dedicated to working with members of our military community. The camaraderie I have witnessed over the years with our students is so incredibly special. The bonds that are established often go beyond our office and campus.”
“Transitioning veterans returning to higher education are actively seeking institutions that understand their unique experiences and needs,” said Rodger Pinto, an IUSB student and army veteran who served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. “With this Military Friendly designation, veterans now know that IU South Bend is a dedicated partner they can turn to and trust with their hard-earned education benefits and goals.”
Pinto, who was president of both the Student Veterans of America chapter at IU South Bend and the campus’s Student Government Association, noted that the reputation of the Office of Veteran Student Services has grown far beyond expectations. “Veterans, and military dependents who aren’t affiliated with IUSB or who live far away have heard IU South Bend’s OVSS can provide them with competent answers to their most pressing questions and reach out to the office frequently. This designation demonstrates to the military community that IU South Bend is a bright light in what can be a confusing world of military/veteran benefits and resources.”
IU South Bend scored highest in the survey’s culture and commitment category. Hebert-Annis points to the commencement tradition where veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists are recognized with red, white, and blue armed forces cords on their regalia and the campus’s Veterans Day celebration as ways IUSB serves and spotlights veterans. Programs like the Veterans Book Club, a donor funded initiative open to anyone in the campus community, offer a shared experience and discussions of books and themes of interest to military families.
“The campus attention to veterans has grown exponentially in recent years,” she said. “The veteran space has transformed from a small office in another unit to a visible suite where veterans, service members, reservists, and dependents can easily access information and resources to the VA, campus, and community. We take pride in having a safe space on campus that military affiliated individuals and families can call home, build relationships and camaraderie, and have support in the military to civilian transition.”
Kevin Griffith, associate vice chancellor of student affairs, said Military Friendly designation demonstrates what the campus can do. “The veterans office works hard to serve the students and their families. The bronze designation illustrates where we are and what we can do to do better.”
The Military Friendly ratings program was started in 2003 as an advocacy vehicle to encourage civilian organizations to invest in programs to recruit, retain and advance veterans as employees, entrepreneurs and students. Military Friendly® is owned and operated by VIQTORY, a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business. More than 1,200 schools participated in the survey and 767 earned the designation.
To view IU South Bend’s results visit https://www.militaryfriendly.com/indiana-university-south-bend/#