Guest Blog Post from University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati’s Veteran Mentor Program primary focus during the Fall 2022 semester was to ensure student’s newly enrolled in our Uptown Campus, regardless of academic standing, received guidance and assistance to meet whatever need they had. We also focused on trying to integrate them into the community by inviting them to events around campus as spectators and or participants. This differs from last year as the primary focus was on freshman students. There were 150 mentees last year and the focus was to act as a referral source for our students. Mentors were required to log communications and report contacts to the program coordinator; however, this year we noticed that our current group of mentors went to great lengths to submit bi-monthly logs documenting the type of
contact and contact hours as well as attending meetings to discuss issues and upcoming events.
This year, our mentors consisted of sophomore and junior year students whose majors included Criminal Justice, Engineering and Social Work.
Our mentors were assigned a total of 97 student veterans spread throughout the different colleges and academic programs on campus. Between the three of them, they logged 345 contact hours via email, telephone calls, text messages, Microsoft Teams, and in-person visits. Most of our mentees were utilizing Chapters 31 and 33 educational benefits. Mentors reported that the most pressing issues mentees requested assistance with were:
1. Understanding their V.A. educational and disability benefits.
2. Finding tutoring resources.
3. Referral to Mental Health Services on and off campus
4. Assistance with understanding the academic advisory role and class approval
Throughout the fall semester, mentees were encouraged to participate in various activities sponsored by Veterans Programs and Services and our Student Veterans Association (UCincy Vets). These activities and events included: 9/11 Memorial Stair Run, Veterans Day Ceremony, setting up the Field of Flags Display, Military Appreciation Game Tailgate, Wealth Health Lunch and Learn, Mental Health Reset Lunch and Learn, Social Night out/Fall Bash, and weekly Let’s Talk Mental Health Sessions. In addition, our mentors and 11 of our mentees along with other veterans were selected to participate in a roundtable discussion with the Deputy Secretary of Veteran Affairs, The Honorable Donald M. Remy when he visited the University of Cincinnati October 21, 2022. These are just a few of the activities/events that mentees were encouraged to attend and or help organize. Photographs from some of the above-mentioned events are included below.
While the Mentor program here at the University of Cincinnati has been beneficial to many student veterans, feedback from mentors and mentees indicate they would like a place where daily contact with other veterans could take place. The current veterans lounge located in our Tangeman University Center is too small to be accommodating. With increased contact, they believe event participation rates would greatly increase and veterans would be able to develop a social network of much needed support. The Veteran Programs and Services Office understands the concern and continuously convey the message that Student Affairs leadership is working on creating a space to better serve veterans. Overall, it has been a pleasure working with these student veterans and I am committed to finding ways to improve our services.
Gregory L. Roberson, Ed.D
Veterans Programs and Services Coordinator, University of Cincinnati