The first-ever meeting of the newly formed Veterans Committee of the Hudson Valley Consortium for Higher Education will take place from 12-3 p.m. July 25 on the SUNY New Paltz campus.
The Veterans Committee of the Hudson Valley Consortium for Higher Education will bring together veterans services representatives from nearly every university in the Hudson Valley. In addition to SUNY New Paltz, confirmed attendees for the July 25 meeting include representatives from Marist College; Vassar College; Mount Saint Mary College; and Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, and Columbia-Greene community colleges, among others.
“Our No. 1 goal is to be advocates in the best interest of the veteran student, military student, or dependent student,” said SUNY New Paltz Veterans Service Coordinator Jason Gilliland.
The committee will offer veterans’ representatives from each Hudson Valley college the chance to share best practices, form a comprehensive set of resources for veteran students, and discuss issues that relate directly to veterans in higher education. A population with a very unique set of needs compared to traditional college students, there are 156 veterans, service members, and dependents enrolled at SUNY New Paltz alone, said Gilliland.
“Veteran students are typically adult learners. They’re older, with a lot more responsibilities,” said Gilliland. “Oftentimes, they’re coming out of the service, and they have families. They have bills to pay, or mortgages to keep up with. They have to keep food on the table. School is a priority, but it’s not the only priority.”
Gilliland, who previously served as the coordinator for veteran and military services at SUNY Buffalo State, said he participated in a similar group in the Buffalo region, which involved 21 colleges in the Western New York area coming together to share best practices, offer each other advice, and coordinate their respective veteran outreach programs.
“When it was put together, it was a big hit right off the bat,” said Gilliland. “There was a lot of collaboration. It was a diverse group, between private colleges, public institutions, and community colleges, so there were a lot of perspectives, and it provided a lot of valuable information that we could all pick each other’s brains about.”
Gilliland said every college invited to participate in the Veterans Committee of the Hudson Valley Consortium for Higher Education saw the value in creating such a group. The committee will meet monthly, and each meeting will be hosted by a different college campus so that committee members can get a good sense of what each college has to offer and how they can work together.
SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian will deliver welcoming remarks at 2 p.m. during the group’s first meeting at SUNY New Paltz.