Veterans and Military Student Services: Honoring Veterans and Strengthening Career Paths

During her second week as the new Director of Veterans and Military Student Services (VMSS) at CU Denver, Leona Lopez, PhD, will celebrate Veterans Day at the Auraria campus on Thursday, November 11. “The importance of Veterans Day cannot be overstated,” Lopez said. “Less than 10% of the adult American population has served their country in the military and less than 1% of the American population currently serves in the armed forces. the day to recognize and thank those who have served their country honorably in time of war or in time of peace.

Veterans Day and Holistic Support

“Veterans Day is celebrated annually on November 11 to honor the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. It was the exact day, hour and hour that marked the end of World War I, ”Lopez explained.

About 1,200 military-related students currently attend CU Denver, and the Office of Veteran and Military Student Services supports them holistically. “Our office provides a strong support system for veterans, active duty personnel and their dependents as they transition from the military to a post-secondary environment and beyond,” said Lopez.

Senior Vice Chancellor for Strategic Enrollment and Student Success Monique Snowden, PhD, who began her role at UC Denver this summer, expects VMSS to continue to focus on the overall success of military / veteran students. . In line with the university’s commitment to ‘making education work for all’, under the leadership of Dr Lopez, the office will focus on strengthening career pathways for veterans and military veterans. students affiliated with the military, ”she said. “An ambitious goal is to establish a CU Denver Center of Excellence for veteran student success, with seed funding from the US Department of Education. Such a center would be dedicated to ensuring that veteran and military-affiliated learners receive integrated services, counseling, coaching and peer support to ensure their academic and professional success.

Emotional intelligence and mental health

Lopez, who has published research on how emotional intelligence can increase retention and graduation rates, intends to continue the office’s successful programs and introduce new initiatives :, References institutional and community resources, and our exceptional Boots to Suits program! “

Lopez would like to add a Veterans Lending Library, a program she previously implemented at Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC). At CCPP, she held the position of Program Manager for Military and Veterans, coordinating and directing CCPP education programs at Space Force Base Peterson.

Yvonne Dinsmore, MA, a United States Marine Corps and Army Reserve veteran who served as acting director of VMSS, explained some of the challenges faced by military students and veterans. “Many ex-combatants find it difficult to make the transition from the military to higher education and civilian life,” she said. “Some are first generation with little or no knowledge of how college works or how to use their VA education benefits. Many have not been to school for years, so much of the knowledge they learned at the time has been lost. Going from a very structured environment to an unstructured one can be a real challenge.

Lopez also values ​​mental health services. As a member of the Council of College and Military Educators and certified by Mental Health First Aid USA, Lopez understands the importance of supporting veterans and military students. Its goals include “introducing new initiatives to remove barriers to graduation and honor the legacy of former VMSS Director Patrick Browne, ensuring that all of our students linked to the The army have a strong support system and the necessary resources to help them in their academic journey. –and beyond the classroom.