Hernandez Helps Empower Veterans at UST
Houston native and Army veteran with multiple combat deployments, Jay Hernandez, has joined UST as assistant director of Veteran Services.
Hernandez served as an intelligence analyst in the Army where he was responsible for the analysis, processing, collection, and distribution of strategic and tactical intelligence.
Personal Transition Experience is Invaluable
“After 12 years of service in the United States Army, Jay fully understands the transition from the military to higher education,” Trisha Ruiz, director of Veteran Services, said. “The leadership that he brings comes from an understanding of the lack of services that he received when he first separated from the Army.”
After his service, Hernandez earned a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and is currently pursuing a M.S. in Plant and Soil Science from Texas Tech University.
Hernandez has worked in higher education for the last seven years assisting veterans’ transition from the military.
“My experiences in higher education and the military are why the work I do is so important to who I am,” Hernandez said. “As a veteran, I can help other student veterans avoid the mistakes I made while making the transition.”
Hernandez notes that one of the most frequent mistakes veterans make is not fully understanding how their benefits work. They also have difficulty navigating the VA system for healthcare.
“That’s where we come in; we meet with our students on an individual basis to explain what their specific education benefit does, what it does not do, and discuss their remaining entitlement,” Hernandez said. “We also discuss their options to apply for other education benefits, disability claims, healthcare, and veteran social events to ensure the veteran and their families are maximizing the benefits they earned. Very few institutions have these discussions with their student veterans or have veterans in our positions who have navigated these obstacles.”
Hernandez Brings Community College Experience
Previously, Hernandez worked at San Jacinto Community College in Veteran Services.
“His leadership at the community college level will help us build a strategic recruitment plan that supports the transition from a community college to a university,” Ruiz said.
Building from a Position of Strength
Hernandez and Ruiz crossed paths before, when he worked for her at University of Houston Clear Lake in the Office of Veteran Services.
“As his supervisor at UHCL for six years, I have witnessed what a great leader Jay is,” Ruiz said. “He relates to our veteran students, motivates them, helps them overcome challenges in their transition after the military, and helps them excel in their educational goals.
Dedicated Veterans Service’s Office
UST currently has 93 veterans, 44 children/spouses of veterans for a total of 137 military connected students. UST is also the only university in Houston to have a stand-alone building dedicated just to veteran services. According to U.S. News & World report, UST has the highest veteran ranking in the city. The UST Veteran Success Team has six members including work study students who are dedicated to helping veterans succeed at UST.