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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Faculty & Staff

Veterans Services now linked to city of Houston


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The new position of Veterans Success on Campus Counselor will link to the Office of Veterans Affairs in Houston, part of a nationwide effort to improve communication and let veterans know their options. | File Photo/The Daily Cougar

The UH Veterans Services office has gained a new addition to its staff for the spring semester: Ralph Harrison as the new Veterans Success on Campus Counselor.

Harrison’s position at UH is intended to provide a link to the Office of Veterans Affairs in Houston. The position is becoming part of colleges’ Veterans Services offices nationwide, and Harrison hopes he can help guide veterans in their college careers by educating them on the many VA benefits available.

“My primary goal here is to assist veterans,” Harrison said. “I want to help veterans and their families to succeed in their communities and, of course, to graduate from this University.”

Harrison is one of three regional counselors who have taken on roles within a VA initiative. The others are at Sam Houston State University and Houston Community College. Part of Harrison’s duties are to keep student veterans aware of their benefits and possible ways to gain as much as they can from them.  As a link between UH and the VA, Harrison will be a liaison or source of information for veterans who face the challenges that pursuing VA benefits can present.

Harrison has been involved in counseling since he left the Air Force, where he spent 10 years of service. He has been helping veterans since his time with the VA and appreciates the chance to help student veterans along their career paths.

“Today is better than the past,” Harrison said. “Now, there are much more opportunities to get help, and there is more assistance that veterans should know about.”

As counselor, Harrison will provide assistance to UH’s chapter of the Student Veterans of America, a relatively new group that also helps veterans meet new contacts, learn about VA benefits and become active in UH’s veteran community.

One mutual goal of Harrison and the SVA is to incorporate the veteran experience into freshman student orientations at UH.  If more veterans know what their school has to offer, then more will be willing to seek out benefits. And because benefits such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill frequently change their rules and requirements, Harrison hopes he can advise UH veterans of such changes via his affiliation with the VA.

“I hope to eventually query all student veterans at UH,” Harrison said. “That way, I can achieve the largest outreach and get to those veterans who are hesitant about seeking out assistance. This should aid in not only their schooling, but theirs and their families’ transition into college from their exit out of the military.”

For the Veterans Services office, Harrison’s counseling skills and expertise will play a vital part in assisting veterans in their college successes. The group of veterans at UH is growing as greater numbers exit the service, and for Harrison, getting them into the office to learn about what is out there for them is his primary goal.

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