13:35 PM

UST Honors Veteran Students with First Military Month

By Brittani Wright

UST Veteran Students at Military Month EventUniversity of St. Thomas Veteran Services celebrates the month of November to honor veterans at UST. Events will be held on the UST campus to enhance the success of veteran students and the veteran community that includes financial, disability assistance, and career opportunities to name a few.

UST Military Month kicked off on Nov. 4 with the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization committed to serving veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, among other mental and physical needs.

"The vision was to bring the resources that Houston has for veterans to campus," Trisha Ruiz, director of UST Veteran Services, said. "Bringing these resources to UST not only brings foot traffic to campus, but also increases awareness and connects students to community resources."

During UST Military Month, veteran students also have the chance to speak with veteran benefits counselors, VA Home Loan representatives, free legal assistance and career services.

"If you were a grenade launcher in the army for 15 years," Ruiz said, "coming out and finding a job might be difficult. Veterans don't realize that skills like management, logistics and supply chain management can apply from that position. They just need assistance drawing it out. They need someone to look at their story and translate it as a civilian. NextOp, a non-profit organization dedicated to recruiting military leaders into the industry, will be on campus for our veteran students."

Veteran's Day is Nov. 11. Veterans will be honored at the men's basketball game where alumni will be invited back on campus for the celebration.

Opening of the Veteran Success Center

A Veteran Success Center has opened its doors this fall semester for veteran students to connect, access resources and study.

"Since the day that I turned the key for this building, we have had constant foot traffic," Ruiz said. "Every veteran student who comes in feels at home and feels like the space is for them. They see that UST is invested in them, and it energizes them to give back to the University and help to move it forward. We are seeing an accelerated pace of student interaction."

Ruiz has seen a 29 percent increase in veteran students at UST since last year, totaling 134 for fall 2019.

UST strives to be the university that 100 percent of veterans would list, if surveyed, as the university they would recommend to other veterans to attend in Houston.

"We are hitting the veterans with a multitude of resources," Ruiz said. "If a student is in a classroom and struggling with their finances, we might not retain them because they need to get a full-time job. Giving them these resources to make healthy decisions and keep them in the classroom is going to increase retention. Our veterans have worked hard for our country; I want to make sure that we are giving them a wrap-around service to help them be successful."