Developing strategies and programs to help student veterans pursue postsecondary education and achieve academic goals were the keys to the recent “Completing the Mission: Retaining and Graduating Student Veterans” conference hosted at the University of Central Florida.

UCF faculty and staff, along with other faculty, staff and college administrators from as far away as Massachusetts, gathered Aug. 3 to talk about improving the academic success of veterans on campus. The conference was hosted by Student Development and Enrollment Services, the Veterans Academic Resource Center, and Registrar’s Office.

Opening remarks from UCF Vice President Al Harms, a retired Navy vice admiral, set the tone for the importance in recognizing the challenges that student veterans often face when transitioning from military to civilian life.

Breakout sessions included topics such as the challenges faced by returning veterans with disabilities, programs designed for veterans transitioning from boots to books, and serving veterans with little money.

Conference speakers and participants shared their insightful leadership in recognizing the need for preparing and sustaining student veterans towards academic success. Networking was a bonus as participants were able to share their knowledge and gain resourceful information from one another.    

The keynote remarks from Dr. John Schupp, creator of the Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran program and an instructor at Tiffin University in Ohio, reinforced that reforms and new ideas are needed to serve the new generation of student veterans.

Conference participants also toured the UCF Veterans Academic Resource Center and learned about the resources offered.