student veterans

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The University of South Florida was listed as the most veteran friendly college in the nation by Money Magazine in 2015. But it’s not looking so “friendly” after refusing to re-admit a student veteran expelled because of a PTSD-related incident.

Jeff Scolaro / WUSF TV

Until recently, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s offerings for student veterans were limited to say the least.

According to Milton White, it was basically him – a single Student Services employee – along with a table outside his office covered with pamphlets. A good portion of the time, he’d have to send student vets to the Tampa campus for assistance.

He said that’s not the ideal way to help someone transitioning from one important chapter of their life to another.

Office of Veterans Affairs / USF

Over the last five years the University of South Florida Office of Veterans Services has worked to raise its visibility among the estimated 1,400 student veterans on campus and provide them resources.

One way USF Veterans Services has gained a lot of notice is its annual Chili Cook-Off.

This year, the Office of Veterans Services 5th Annual Chili Cook-Off is scheduled 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nov. 5th at the Marshall Center Amphitheater on the Tampa Campus, 4202 E. Fowler Ave.

With the stroke of a pen Monday, Gov. Rick Scott positioned Florida to attract more veterans - beyond the estimated 1.5 million already living here - to attend college, to work and to retire in the state.

The “Florida GI Bill,” crafted to resemble the post-WWII benefits, includes measures for veterans, active-duty families and military installations.

Student veterans using their GI education benefits between 2002 and 2010 graduated from colleges and universities at the rate of 51.7 percent according to researchers with the Million Records Project.

Department of Veterans Affairs

It’s taken three attempts, but Florida student veterans will soon be granted in-state tuition waivers if the governor signs the newly passed legislation. All indications are that he will.

The Florida Legislature on Tuesday passed the “Florida GI Bill," CS/HB 7015, which among other things offers a tuition break to honorably discharged veterans regardless of when they moved to the state. It also includes college scholarships for National Guard members.

USF Psychological Services Center

Family therapy, couples therapy, individual therapy, even weight management groups are all services that have been available at the USF Psychological Services Center for decades. Now, the center’s director, who served 10 years in the U.S. Army, is reaching out to the veteran and military families offering help.

“We know that there are veterans, for whatever reason, are still hesitant about seeking services in the VA,” said Jack Darkes, director of the University of South Florida Psychological Services Center.

Michael Rivera

Before the Florida legislative session starts March 4, Florida Matters is previewing some of the issues facing lawmakers this year:

Department of Veterans Affairs

The Post 9-11 GI Bill granted veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan a myriad of benefits including tuition money for college or trade schools. But those benefits have limits.

“We’re all aware that veterans receive GI benefits and several different levels of GI benefits,” said Michael Ayres, a development officer at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. “What none of us ever thought about was that these benefits expire or they can use them up.”

USF Comng Home Project flyer

The number of veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill passed 1 million in November according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. And the number of student veterans is expected to swell as another million service members transition out of the military over the next five years.

It raises the challenge of how to best help those Iraq and Afghanistan veterans transition into an educational setting.

Florida Women Veterans Will Gain Advocate

Nov 5, 2013
Photo courtesy of Kiersten Downs member of the USF Student Veterans Association.

The fourth annual USF Veterans Day Ceremony came with some good news for women veterans in Florida.

Mike Prendergast, executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs, announced the appointment of Cynthia Brown to a newly-made position within the department, which will start in January.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Students returned to campus this week at the University of South Florida and among them are an estimated 1,700 student veterans transitioning from active duty military to full-time college student.

At a welcome back barbecue on the Tampa campus, student veteran Victor Benoit collected a free shirt from the Student Veterans Association (SVA). He is a former Army military police soldier and a USF criminology major.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Over the next five years, it’s estimated that more than a million soldiers, seamen, airmen and Marines will leave the military. Many of those veterans will transition into college using their Post 9/11 G-I Bill education benefits.

And that growing number of student veterans is leading to an increased number of Student Veterans of America campus chapters.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Everyone from Florida’s governor and VA secretary to state  lawmakers likes to call Florida the most veteran-friendly state in the nation.

Some veterans are saying, "Okay, prove it."

Student veterans are challenging lawmakers and the governor to pass legislation that would give them a break on college tuition. Almost a dozen states give military veterans in-state tuition waivers even if they’ve just moved there.

USF Unveils a New, Student Veterans Lounge

Aug 31, 2012

The University of South Florida's new veterans lounge is a place where former service members can kick back and relax or get some studying done.