MU Is Military Friendly

Nick Vitale, Reporter

Misericordia is giving veterans a big salute, a hearty thank you and a mighty opportunity to reach their full potential as civilians.

Beginning this semester, the university will officially become a military friendly university, which basically means that Misericordia will offer financial and other benefits to veterans who enroll. The designation comes from GI Jobs, an organization that helps veterans secure employment. The group sends a 90-question survey to every institution of higher education in the nation, and based upon the results, determines if schools offer services to veterans that would qualify them for the military-friendly designation.

“[G.I. Jobs] comes out with a magazine every year that talks about the other military friendly schools,” said Executive Director of Enrollment Management, Jane Dessoye. “When the magazine actually comes out, this will be the first time that Misericordia has ever been included in it.”

Dessoye said the university has been working to win the designation for three years.

“It is part of our military friendliness to have special services that we intend to offer to veterans, so we want to do a veterans-specific portion to our website, so we are working on that as we speak.”

Dessoye said the university’s designation is a result of its commitment to veterans.

“We were the first school in the area to sign on to the Yellow Ribbon Program. [The program] provides added financial support to veterans, but the finances come out of Misericordia’s offers. So, it is a financial commitment that we made to participate in Yellow Ribbon.”

The new designation means Dessoye is adding another title to her job description.

“Right now I am in the process of developing a job description for Veterans Affairs Coordinator, which will add to my current responsibilities.” she said.

Dessoye looks forward to continuing to serve veterans already attending and those of the future.

“We have such a liberal policy,” said Dessoye. “If a veteran gets deployed after a semester begins then we meet with the veteran in conjunction with the faculty who are teaching that veteran and our Vice President of Academic Affairs. We come to a consensus with the veteran on what would be in their best interest.”

For example, if a student veteran were to be deployed at the beginning of a semester, he or she could withdraw and receive a 100% tuition. Similarly, if the semester is coming to a close, faculty might give the veteran an incomplete or provide the opportunity for distance learning.

“[This is] so that the entire weeks that they spent leading up to deployment are not wasted,” said Dessoye. “Also, if a veteran comes back from deployment and they still want to finish their education, Misericordia will accept them back with open arms.”

Dessoye said veterans who choose to attend MU will receive $2,500 each year for their military service.

Dessoye also has plans to create a veterans’ club and perform a special orientation for veterans when they arrive on campus. She said she wants to bring veterans together in any way possible so that they can get to know one another and talk about their military experiences.

Sophomore physician’s assistant major Frederick Allenbaugh is helping the university to better serve the new veteran recruits. Allenbaugh, a retired First Sargent with 23 years of service, took up the Financial Services Department on their offer to be a military work study.

“I was initially asked to help because the Financial Services Department mentioned that they were looking for a work study through the military because they were getting more military people coming in,” said Allenbaugh. “I wanted to do that because I wanted to help veterans.”

“I’m preparing a job description for him, and we’re going to submit that to the Veteran’s Administration for a position that they have in colleges throughout the country, “ Dessoye said.

“We are going to hire him as soon as I get the job description together,” she said.

Allenbaugh wants to help ensure that word about the university’s military-friendly services gets out to veterans.

“I am interested in contacting anybody who is going to Misericordia if they have questions. That way I can assist them in any way that I can,” said Allenbaugh. “I want to make sure that people who are coming in know what benefits are available to them. There’s a lot of stuff out there, and it is going to be increasing.”

He said the services will be a draw to student veterans. “In the bigger picture, we have more veterans coming back and more veterans using the G.I. Bill. With this being known and being put out there, you are going to have more veterans coming to Misericordia.”