SFAC: Veteran Services gets funding boost
The UH Veteran Services office will have access to new funds after several of its 2017 budget requests were approved by the Student Fees Advisory Committee, according to the committee’s recommendation report for 2017.
The VS is an on-campus organization geared toward assisting military veterans with their educational, professional and personal needs. Whether it be through assistance with their post-service benefits, disability aid and or easing into civilian life.
“We want to provide supportive services and advocate for our student veterans to insure that they are successful in this process of gaining their academic and professional goals,” VS Director Celina Dugas said. “We do that through collaboration, outreach and by utilizing all of our resources, both inside and outside the University.”
Under the leadership of Dugas, the VS submitted a one-time $2,809 allocation request for the 2016 fiscal year.
That approved funding will help cover the cost of collaborating with the UH Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services Marketing and UH branding in the development of marketing strategies to increase awareness of the program.
The SFAC also granted the VS a one-time $25,000 allocation for core programming in the 2017 fiscal year.
This request was originally made as a yearly augmentation to the organization’s base budget to offset the growth of the program, which saw a 193 percent increase in office utilization from 2013 to 2014.
The committee approved this request as a one-time approval instead, opting to further evaluate the effectiveness of the VS programs during the 2016 presentations.
For the 2017 base budget augmentation, the VS will receive an increase of $22,347, the bulk of which will go toward salary and benefit adjustments.
With the quickly expanded group of veteran students utilizing the office’s services, the VS has added 12 new Work Study Peer Counselors to its Peer Mentor Program this semester to accommodate demand.
“We hired very specific students to tutor in chemistry, math, science and English,” Dugas said. “These students provide office hours and are able to support other students through those tough classes.”
Because of the multitude of services that the VS provides to the students on campus and the increased attention of being nationally recognized as a “military friendly” campus for the past five years, the organization’s growth rate and its needs will only increase.
“We do what we do well because a lot of us have been there. I’m an army veteran, I’m a military spouse, I’ve moved, I’ve dealt with deployments and a lot of other things,” Dugas said. “When students come in and ask for support, I can give them that peer-to-peer mentorship and for a lot of our students, that’s what they are looking for.”