On Thursday, the Florida A&M University Board of Trustees unanimously voted in favor of a proposal by the FAMU Division of Student Affairs to create the FAMU Department of Veteran Affairs.
The move is in line with the national call by United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki to address the need for more access to scholastic and employment opportunities for soldiers transitioning from combat to the commercial sector.
“The Department of Veteran Affairs will address the unique needs and challenges of veterans,” said Vice President for Student Affairs William Hudson Jr., Ph.D. “We will identify, track and assist them with the application process and monitor their progression through graduation. The goal is to provide them with an opportunity to go to college and find employment.”
According to Hudson, the FAMU Department of Veteran Affairs is expected to open during the 2014-2015 academic year. The new department will expound on the current processes FAMU has in place to assist veterans with enrolling at the university. Recruitment programs will be initiated to educate veterans on FAMU’s services and academic offerings.
Florida is home to 1.6 million living veterans, the second largest veteran population in the United States. According to Hudson, these numbers position FAMU to be a top producer of veterans earning degrees and subsequently employment opportunities after returning from active military duty.
According to FAMU Professor of Military Science Lt. Col. Joseph D. Kelly, FAMU’s Department of Veteran Affairs will open just in the nick of time.
“More than 158,000 [Army and Marine] soldiers will be leaving the Armed Forces in the next few years,” Kelly said. “These soldiers will be looking for education and certification opportunities.”
Board of Trustees member Marjorie Turnbull applauded Hudson and his team for their work in ensuring FAMU meets the needs of those who have selflessly served our country.
“I think it’s vitally important,” Turnbull said. “We have the opportunity to do some major recruitment of veterans and bring them to FAMU. They will be a vital and mature addition to our student body.”
In conjunction with the implementation of the FAMU Department of Veteran Affairs, the university plans to create an administrative position to lead the new department.