Shifting to university life after experiencing the regimen and structure of military life can prove to be quite the challenge for veterans enrolled as students at the University of South Florida. To help ease this transition, USF offers services and support for more than 7,400 veterans, active-duty military and their dependents through its Office of Veteran Success (OVS). And now, thanks to a recent grant from the U.S. Department of Education, these services will be enhanced.
The Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Service grant for $427,469 will be used to expand the capacity of OVS, building on existing services and expanding the support at the St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Tampa campuses. The unit provides admissions assistance, scholarships, career counseling, employment assistance, VA benefits and health services guidance, and social space for interactions among students and with staff.
The grant will establish an interconnected unit that aligns policies, processes and initiatives across all three campuses while strengthening access for veterans in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties. Services will be more focused and targeted to those students with the greatest need and will expand mental health services.
"The University of South Florida is proud to be recognized as a national leader for supporting student veterans and for our deep institutional commitment to student success,” said USF President Rhea Law. "This grant provides an opportunity for USF to further invest in our programs to make an even greater impact on this honored population across the university.”
"This grant provides a greater opportunity of navigating the military-to-academic transition where I can have a meaningful college experience from my earned service,” said Todd Post, a student veteran on the St. Petersburg campus. “This opens additional opportunities for resources and programs for our student veterans where we can feel more appreciated for our service as veterans."
OVS assists in making the academic journey a smooth one for the nation’s veterans. Services range from administering scholarships and guiding veterans’ understanding of the GI Bill and educational benefits, to tutoring and advising, to courses on career exploration. The office offers an environment where veterans can study, connect and socialize with other veterans to share this academic journey. This peer connection is invaluable to these students.
“I am very thankful for our Tampa Bay Area Congressional delegation’s support in our grant application,” said Larry Braue, director of the Office of Veterans Success. “The grant presents a tremendous opportunity to reestablish high-quality services for our student veterans in the aftermath of the pandemic. By reinforcing academic, career and mental health support for our veteran population, we will be able to remedy the unavoidable consequences of isolation student veterans faced over the last year.”