Since the first two student veterans arrived at Texas A&M University for rehabilitation training in March 1919, Aggieland has committed to “Serve well those who have served.” This is the motto of the Don and Ellie Knauss Veteran Resource and Support Center (VRSC), which, through the Division of Student Affairs, supports Texas A&M’s 1,300 student veterans and their families.
“The VRSC believes in leading fundamental change to transform and sustain Texas A&M as the destination of choice for student veteran success,” said Col. Gerald Smith ’82, USMC (Ret.), director of the VRSC. “Our goal is to maximize the leadership potential of student veterans for future service to our state, nation and world after they graduate and leave our campus.”
The number of student veterans at Texas A&M has more than doubled since the center opened in 2012. With Texas poised to become home to the highest number of veterans in the nation, the university plays an important role in helping these men and women transition back into civilian life. Unlike many universities, which provide resources to veterans from their arrival on campus until their graduation, the VRSC supports veterans from the time they begin their application up until their vocation.
“The real goal is getting veterans back to the civilian workforce,” Smith said. “We strive to keep them fit in four areas—academics, finances, well-being and career—to enhance their transitions, success rates, graduation rates and employment rates.”
Because many student veterans are nontraditional students with families, they have more expenses than the average college student, and although they receive funds from the GI Bill, these resources often do not last until graduation. To offset some of these costs, Ellie and Don Knauss recently committed a $5 million naming gift to the VRSC, which includes $500,000 in matching funds for new student veteran scholarships. “The matching opportunity will help us reach a larger number of donors and create a greater impact for many more student veterans and their spouses,” Smith said.
In addition to scholarships, Texas A&M partners with donors to provide numerous programs that set America’s heroes up for success. On this Veterans Day, here are just a few campus veteran programs that are ripe for your support.