MSU Alumni Office
Oct. 20, 2020
From the American Civil War to the present day, Spartan veterans have built a legacy of service that spans the entire history of MSU. Today, Michigan State University is home to over 300 student veterans and 2,000 military-affiliated students. While the challenges of serving in uniform are great, re-entry into civilian life often leads to a brand-new set of obstacles.
MSU is committed to helping veterans — on campus and in our communities — succeed upon returning home from military service. The Student Veterans Resource Center (SVRC) is dedicated to promoting the educational, career and personal advancement of service members, veterans and their families. Services and resources provided include Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits and health information, financial aid application support, transitional services, career development, employment and internship opportunities and referrals to other programs both on and off campus.
Patrick Forystek, coordinator for the SVRC, says while veteran students do very well academically at MSU, one of the biggest obstacles they face is finances. Many veterans are non-traditional students, meaning they have families or work full time, all while taking classes. That is why the SVRC provides workshops focusing on time management strategies, as well as resources about applying for financial aid, scholarships and grants.
Like many other programs on campus, the SVRC relies on private donations to offer services to student veterans. Donations from Spartans and friends allow the Center to host its spring banquet, offer special programming and outings for the students and fund three different scholarships. According to Forystek, the SVRC has, "a lot of smaller donors that keep [the fund] full and let us do programming for the vets. Everything that comes in is directly impacting student vets. That private support we get really helps us do everything that isn’t just staying open."
Patrick Forystek, Coordinator for SVRC
One of the most popular and impactful ways the SVRC supports students is through the Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE) Program. PAVE is a peer-to-peer advising program for incoming students to help them with the transition to MSU. PAVE advisors provide outreach, support and linkage to resources to these students. They also guide students on navigating campus, help them better understand their benefits (both educational and health) and provide student insight to other challenges that may arise during transition.
For Cassadee Jackson '20, an MSU communications/public relations student, and a former United States Marine, the PAVE program helped her find a sense of belonging after transferring to MSU from the University of Michigan. Graduating in December 2020, Jackson is currently a PAVE Team Leader and plans to use her experience to pursue a career in student veteran higher education services.
Through this program I was able to meet more student veterans and find a sense of belonging. My PAVE Team Leader has now graduated but remains a good friend. The program helped me better understand how I could fully utilize my benefits and resources as a veteran and has helped guide me on my own educational path. With additional support, we would be able to better assist our student veterans and create more resources to benefit their sense of belonging and inclusion.
The PAVE program costs the Center roughly $6,000 a year for the license and web support. Other costs of the program include funds for activity events for the students and peer advisors, as well as stipends to support the PAVE team leaders. Donations to this program are a great way to directly impact student veterans.
Together we have an opportunity to support the Spartan veterans who have served us. In addition to the SVRC, there are many programs at MSU providing life-changing opportunities for veterans studying at MSU and living in our communities. Your support increases scholarship funds for student veterans and military affiliated students, expands pioneering programs for combat veterans healing from the wounds of war, enhances peer advising opportunities and much more.
In honor of Veterans Day this year, please consider supporting our Spartan vets.
In honor of Veterans Day this year, we encourage you to share your #SpartansWhoServe story with us, or submit a story on behalf of a Spartan veteran. We believe every Spartan story can inspire and help others.