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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh recently was recognized as “Best for Vets” by Military Times EDGE magazine. UW Oshkosh ranked first in the state and 36th in the nation for its programs, policies and resources for veterans.

More than 4,000 colleges and universities were invited to submit information. The responses were evaluated in four criteria — financial assistance, academic flexibility, campus culture and support services — and the top 101 were distinguished as “Best for Vets.”

UW Oshkosh received three out of five stars for financial assistance, four and a half stars for academic flexibility, three stars for campus culture and four stars for support services.

“While it is very nice to be ranked 36th in the nation and number one in the state, it is even better to know we are on track and serving our student veterans well,” said Beth Mueller, a veteran’s certifying official and the University’s Veteran’s Resource Center coordinator.

Mueller coordinates federal and state GI Bill benefits for nearly 500 students on campus, including veterans, those actively serving in military, as well as spouses and children of disabled veterans.

Tony Schwitzer, a former Navy petty officer 3rd class and current Coast Guard reservist who is in his second semester at UW Oshkosh, worked with the Veteran’s Resource Center to get his GI Bill.

“I was very impressed that they knew so much about what to do. I used up the Montgomery GI Bill when I got my technical degree, so I had to use my reserve GI Bill. Not a lot of people use the reserve, but the staff at the Veteran’s Resource Center knew what paperwork to fill out,” Schwitzer said.

Schwitzer, a student in UWO’s Center for New Learning, chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in organizational administration through an online program because he is able to achieve his degree while maintaining his military responsibilities.

“On the military side, a bachelor’s degree will help me get a full commission. The fact that I can take classes online makes it possible for me to get my degree and do my reserve duties,” Schwitzer said.

Added Lisa Danielson, the University’s registrar, “We have one of the largest veteran populations at any UW institution. A lot of our veteran students take classes online with the Center for New Learning. And there are many other offices on campus that have policies specifically for student veterans.”

Campus-wide efforts for vets are lead by a veteran’s support group, which is made up of student service offices.

“Veteran support doesn’t end with our Veteran’s Resource Center. We get a lot of support from other areas on campus, and those services were included in the Military Times EDGE survey,” Danielson said.

The veteran’s support group is comprised of the Undergraduate Advising Resource Center, Counseling Center, Dean of Students, Center for New Learning, Admissions Office and Adult Nontraditional Student Resource Office.

“Our goal with the support group is to promote awareness of student veterans in the classroom and on campus,” Danielson said.

Although UW Oshkosh ranked high as a “Best for Vets” university, UW Oshkosh will continue making improvements to its services and for veteran students.

“We are going to give the Veteran’s Resource Center more visibility by moving the location of the center and adding another position that will be responsible for coordinating and promoting veteran’s services on campus,” Danielson said. “Our student veterans are excellent students and are very driven. They also bring a lot to the classroom because of their unique perspective. Our services are a way we can thank them for what they have done for us.”