Photo caption: Blugold members of the U.S. Army ROTC and National Guard served as color guards in the 2022 UW-Eau Claire Homecoming parade.
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has again been designated as a Military Friendly School for 2023-24, this year rising from a silver to a gold-level designee in the large public institution category.
More than 1,800 schools participated in the 2023-24 survey and 530 schools earned award designations in gold, silver and bronze. UW-Eau Claire was one of 250 schools selected for gold-award status for their leading practices, outcomes and effective programs.
The survey agency Viqtory is a veteran-owned small business that connects the military community to civilian employment, education and entrepreneurial opportunities. For the awards, the agency measures institutions for their ability to meet and exceed thresholds for retention, graduation, job placement, debt repayment and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.
“It is very exciting to not only be recognized again as a military-friendly institution but to earn the gold-level rank,” says Miranda Cross-Schindler, manager of military and veteran services at UW-Eau Claire.
“Our military-connected population includes veterans of the armed forces, actively serving military members, as well as military children and spouses, so our services are not ‘one size fits all.’ This ranking reflects our campus efforts to provide excellence in veterans services, student support, financial aid, academic policies and graduate outcomes.”
The UW-Eau Claire veteran services programming at both the Eau Claire and Rice Lake campuses provide services to a yearly average of more than 500 students combined, students whose military service ranges from active duty, Reserve or National Guard status to GI Bill recipients and military dependents. Services include advising and career-fair activities, as well as the chance to connect with community leaders. For example, the Veterans Center recently had a visit from U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden of Wisconsin’s third congressional district who serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and chairs its subcommittee on economic opportunities for veterans.
Casey Boatman, a materials science and engineering student from Eau Claire, served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist, and they are grateful for the campus veteran support and services provided.
“Knowing that UW-Eau Claire has the military-friendly ranking and a designated veteran resource center helped me be confident in my college choice,” Boatman says.
“The Veterans Center is a great place to communicate with other vets about their transition process and better understand the benefits available to us. I have learned more about health and education benefits, like the Wisconsin GI Bill supplemental payment for Wisconsin veterans, which I knew nothing about.”
Senior public health major Sierra Szydel served as a culinary specialist in the U.S. Army and she credits that service with the attributes that brought her a successful student journey at UW-Eau Claire.
“A lot of my success as a student is related to my military history,” says the Altoona native, citing traits like leadership, adaptability and perseverance as attributes she often observes in fellow veteran students.
“Earning this gold-standard ranking will likely attract more military students to UW-Eau Claire, which I believe will increase the number of high-performing students on campus.”
There are nine military-connected students enrolled at the Rice Lake campus this academic year, and for U.S. Air Force veteran Marrissa Haglund, the resources available on the Rice Lake campus have made a tremendous difference in her academic journey.
“The staff and faculty on campus are always willing to work with me when an issue arises related to my military service,” says the Arkansaw native studying business management. “From day one I have been able to reach out to any of them when I need to. Their support has boosted my confidence and helped me apply my military knowledge to campus organizations, as well as advocating for myself and other students.”
For more information about veterans services at UW-Eau Claire, contact Miranda Cross-Schindler at email@example.com or 715-836-5212.