BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs (LDVA) Secretary Joey Strickland signed a memorandum of understanding with statewide higher education leaders in support of a new statewide LaVetCorps Program campus veteran center initiative. The announcement and public signing took place at the Louisiana Community and Technical College System Baton Rouge Community College in Baton Rouge.
Coming this 2019 academic year, LDVA, in partnership with the Office of Governor John Bel Edwards, Louisiana Board of Regents, Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS), University of Louisiana System, LSU System, and Southern University System will open 30 veteran resource centers on campuses across our state. This new initiative includes all four Louisiana public college systems and Xavier University of Louisiana.
“The men and women who selflessly dedicate their lives to secure the safety and freedoms of our state and nation deserve every opportunity to prepare themselves for the transition to civilian life, and I’m proud of the partnerships that will help them continue to achieve their goals,” said Gov. Edwards. “This initiative will benefit both veterans and communities and thereby our state.”
The LaVetCorps mission is to empower veterans, families and campus communities to help veterans returning from active-duty military service to successfully transition home to college and their local community. Louisiana’s Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, LCTCS President Monty Sullivan, University of Louisiana System President Dr. Jim Henderson, Southern University System President Dr. Ray Belton, and Louisiana State University President F. King Alexander all took part in the signing.
Today, more than 8,300 Louisiana veterans and their dependents bring in more than $185 million in federal dollars to Louisiana’s higher education communities each year through G.I. Bill funding.
“Part of our mission has always been to provide post-secondary educational and workforce training opportunities for veterans and their families,” said Dr. Monty Sullivan, LCTCS President. “Today’s announcement reinforces our mission and creates a unified approach that ensures the men and women of our military have the wrap-around services and access to additional resources that will support them in reaching their educational and career attainment goals.”
The LDVA is applying for additional AmeriCorps funding and would like to thank both Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and Volunteer Louisiana for their collaboration in this effort.
At each LaVetCorps veteran resource center, an LDVA-trained LaVetCorps navigator, who would also be an AmeriCorps service member, will serve as a peer mentor to student veterans in transition, work to increase student veterans’ access to their earned federal and state benefits, and work to build a vibrant on-campus veteran community. LDVA LaVetCorps navigators will provide training and support to college faculty, staff and administration to increase awareness of student veterans’ needs and veteran culture. LaVetCorps navigators will also organize community service projects benefiting both on- and off-campus veterans.
“The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs is committed to partnering with agencies that can help us develop innovative ways to help our veterans make a streamlined transition into college life,” said LDVA Secretary Joey Strickland. “These men and women are not your typical college students. They have seen and done things that most cannot relate to, but we at the LDVA can, and we are finding ways to help them be successful in their academic studies through these LaVetCorps vet centers.”
More than 840 LDVA employees across the state devote each day to providing comprehensive care and quality service to Louisiana’s 284,000 veterans and their families with regard to education, benefits, healthcare, long-term care, and burial honors. Now, through LaVetCorps, Louisiana’s student veterans and their dependents will have direct access to these services on campuses as well.
“I am delighted to celebrate this large scale effort to support our student veterans,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Kim Hunter Reed. “Today we are advancing what works – ensuring students have a sense of place and an advocate to help them navigate college. For our veterans and their families this resource will make a difference and we look forward to more student success.”
This spring, the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs will post job these LAVetCorps navigator job opportunities on its website, www.vetaffairs.la.gov. LDVA hopes to fill these 30 positions with veterans and/or their dependents by August 2019 so they may begin serving at these Louisiana campus communities in the fall.