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Serving America's Veteran Students

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In his recent speech to the Disabled American Veterans National Convention in Orlando, Fla., President Obama announced the "8 Keys to Success" for veteran students. The president singled out 250 schools across the nation that are committed to implementing these initiatives. Nazareth College of Rochester, N.Y., is among those schools -- and is one of only three schools in New York state outside of New York City to be on the list.

I believe strongly that colleges and universities have an obligation to ensure that our veterans have the knowledge and skills to make the transition to productive civilian lives. Moreover, we can benefit from having students with the kinds of training and skills that veterans bring to the classroom. Nazareth was one of the very first schools -- even before the yellow ribbon program -- to provide veteran scholarships that filled the gap between VA benefits and the cost of tuition.

We established an Office of Veterans Affairs and hired a full-time director to assist our veteran students in dealing with academic matters as well as other issues that arise both on and off campus. This office is an important part of our efforts to ensure the success of veteran students, and in the past few years we have retained more than 90 percent of our veteran students. We partnered with the local Veterans Outreach Center to offer programs to the community about issues facing returning vets, and the Veterans Business Council meets on a monthly basis on our campus. These kinds of community partnerships create opportunities for our veteran students to access necessary services and explore employment interests.

I offer our example as evidence that all institutions, even those that are not large universities, can have an impact in ensuring that America's veterans receive high quality educational experiences after serving our country. I am hopeful that more schools commit to the "8 Keys to Success."