STUDENT VETERANS OF AMERICA Strategic Summary P.O. Box 77673 Washington D.C. 20013 www.studentveterans.org Student Veterans of America Strategic Summary Today’s generation of veterans face a tremendous set of obstacles in their path to attaining a college degree. These challenges range from a missing sense of camaraderie experienced while serving, to a lack of understanding by university faculty and students on the experiences of military service. To combat these obstacles, student veterans from across the country have come together to form Student Veterans of America and are now working to assist their brothers and sisters in their new mission of attaining a college degree. _________________________________________________________________________ As veterans return from war and join the campus environment, many have found they tend to stand out from the typical undergraduate and have been finding it even more difficult to successfully integrate into the normal flow of campus life. While being older than the rest of the student body can add to the isolation veterans face, many also come from diverse backgrounds and may be the first in their family to pursue a college degree. These factors, coupled with the visible and invisible wounds of war, make the attainment of a college degree an extremely daunting task for the men and women returning from military service. To combat these difficulties, Student Veterans of America has been working with veteran service organizations (VSOs), non-profit organizations and The Department of Veterans Affairs to create uniquely tailored programs to assist the increasing number of veterans who will be arriving to campus to utilize the Post 9/11 GI Bill. These programs range from mental health and suicide prevention to programs built to assist wounded and injured service members make the transition from military hospitals to college campuses. The needs of returning veterans have become well-understood and visible, and having grown to more than more than 200 chapters in our first two years of existence, we are proud of our progress to date. SVA has been working to create a positive environment on campuses for those who have chosen to pursue a college degree to enhance their lives, and as a result of these efforts would like to see even more soldiers choose education as an essential phase of reintegration to civilian life. Through education, advocacy and service, Student Veterans of America is dedicated to creating an environment that fosters a smooth transition into institutions of higher learning from military service. Specifically, SVA strives to: Assist veterans in their Coordinate and assist in Advocate on behalf of successful transition to the development of student veterans on the academia through the programs and policies on state and national levels empowerment and campuses to aid in the support of student transition from combat to veterans organizations the classroom Programs and Services Student Veterans of America is creating a wide range of programs and services to provide the necessary conditions for veterans to successfully transition from military service to academia. These program areas focus on transitional assistance, education and career advancement, organizational development and advocacy. National Programs SVA Chapter Grant System The SVA Chapter Grant system provides member chapters of Student Veterans of America (SVA) with the resources necessary to accomplish the SVA mission at the local level. While member chapters of SVA are student groups at their respective institutions, many of these groups lack adequate funds to hold basic events such as movie screenings, speakers, social networking events and career fairs. SVA Chapters with access to resources via their educational institutions often find that the school heavily limits the scope and purpose of their activities. In order to facilitate the activities of individual chapters, SVA will provide access to funding for specific events on and off-campus. SVA National Scholarship Program While the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides increased funding for many veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the cost of attending college is still a major obstacle to degree completion facing veterans. In order to fill the gap left by inadequate GI Bill funding SVA is developing a scholarship fund to directly support those veterans who have the greatest need. This scholarship will be available to any veteran who is a member of one of SVA’s 246 member chapters. SVA Conferences In order to facilitate and broaden peer-to-peer networking and veteran’s educational advancement throughout the nation, SVA facilitates national, regional and state conferences. These conferences provide the opportunity for the exchange of ideas, training and the provision of resources and the means to discuss future endeavors for Student Veterans of America. These conferences are invaluable in ensuring that student veterans and SVA Chapters continue to discuss the issues affecting returning veterans and construct solutions to such issues by interacting with other members of SVA. Advocacy Student Veterans of America has taken on an important role to represent the interests of its members and student veterans across the country in its communication with congressmen, executive officials and the White House. SVA has and will continue to work with the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other VSOs to ensure that student veterans receive the benefits they have earned through their military service. Transition Assistance Programs Wounded Injured and Ill Veterans Educational Transition Team (VETT) Student Veterans of America is partnering with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) to assist wounded injured and ill veterans (WII) veterans make the transition from the military hospitals and Warrior Transition Units to which they are assigned to college campuses through peer mentorship and empowerment. The WII VETT Program will assist WII Veterans in attaining their academic goals by mentoring and connecting wounded and injured veterans at the military hospitals with members of local SVA Chapters. Student veterans will participate as “peer mentors” to motivate and educate WII Veterans of the opportunities available at college. To compliment the support and mentorship provided by the student veterans at the hospitals and the military bases, each wounded or injured veteran is then assigned a sponsor at the school he or she plans to attend. The sponsor is then responsible for assisting the WII Veteran in the application process, finding housing, registering for classes and connecting the veteran with the local social network provided by the SVA Chapter. SVA Mental Health Program Approximately 30-40% of the service members returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reported symptoms of PTSD, TBI, depression and other related anxiety disorders. In the past six months alone, Student Veterans of America has lost four of its members to suicide and has thousands of its members struggling with depression and post-traumatic stress. To combat these tragedies, SVA is partnering with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Network of Depression Centers to create a peer-to-peer suicide prevention/mental health program; The Jed Foundation, MTVu, and the national student mental health organization, Active Minds, to create a public service announcement campaign to destigmatize mental health on college campuses; the non-profit organization Give an Hour, which has a network of more than 4,500 mental health providers nationwide who have volunteered to assist with the mental health needs of veterans and their families; and SVA is looking to partner with other organizations and governmental agencies to help decrease the number of suicides within the student veteran communities. SVA’s Mental Health Program (MHP) will be a four-tier initiative that makes use of the communal bonds that already exist among veterans. The SVA MHP relies on peer-to-peer assistance and referrals, and just as veterans have been trained to be Wingmen or Battle Buddies while on active duty, they will again be tasked to look out for one another. This program will provide members of SVA with gate keeper and referral training and will be complimented with training videos and manuals to further educate SVA members on the struggles their fellow student veterans may be facing. BOARD OF DIRECTORS Rodrigo Garcia - Board Chairman Rodrigo Garcia is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2006. He graduated from Northeastern Illinois University summa cum laude in December of 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Finance, and with an MBA from the University of Illinois-Chicago in May 2009. Rodrigo has been previously employed by Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc. and the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, and is currently employed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Derek Blumke - President Derek Blumke served six years in the U.S. Air Force to include three deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Shortly after transitioning to the Air National Guard, Derek attained an associate’s degree from North Central Michigan College. In January of 2007, he transferred to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he is a senior double majoring in Psychology and Political Science. In 2007 he founded a student veterans group at the University of Michigan, and in 2008 Derek co-founded Student Veterans of America with Elizabeth O’Herrin and Luke Stalcup. Michael Dakduk – Vice-President Michael Dakduk’s tours of duty include Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Michael now attends the University of Nevada Las Vegas and is pursuing a B.S. in Public Administration. Marello Harris - Secretary Marello Harris enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in February 1991 and served nine years on active duty. He has worked as Executive Protection Guard for the Saudi Ambassador in Washington, DC, and Veterans Employment Specialist for the Georgia Department of Labor. He obtained an associate’s degree in general business from Athens Technical College, and in 2008 he transferred to Kennesaw State University for completion of a BA in Accounting with a minor in Management. Peter Meijer – Board Member Peter Meijer started his Army career at the United States Military Academy at West Point before transferring to Columbia University. At Columbia, Peter continues to serve as an NCO in the US Army Reserves while actively participating in NYC veterans’ issues with the Military Veterans at Columbia University. Originally from Grand Rapids, MI, Peter is the grandson of retail magnate Frederik Meijer, and through two family businesses has grown up surrounded by a diverse assortment of corporate and non-profit networks. Luke Stalcup - Board Member Luke Stalcup deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2002 and participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since 2004, Luke has achieved a double major in Math and Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University, and he is now working on his master’s degree at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Luke served for two years as the president of US Military Veterans of Columbia University. In 2008 Luke co-founded Student Veterans of America with Derek Blumke and Elizabeth O’Herrin. Nathaniel Donnelly - Board Member Nathaniel Donnelly served as an infantry Marine for eight years and is an Iraq War Veteran. He graduated from San Diego State University in May of 2009 where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Security and Conflict Resolution. He now serves as the Employment Committee Chairman for the San Diego United Veterans Council, the Panama Operations Manager for Swing Associates, and the Corporate and Government Relations Officer for SCHAP. Current Staff David Inkellis- Office Director David Inkellis graduated from the University of Michigan in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in History. He plans on joining his parents in law, possibly with the Navy Judge Advocate General. David assists with the day-to-day operations in the Student Veterans of America headquarters in Washington, DC. David previously worked as an administrative assistant for online customer service at ProQuest in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Projected STAFFING Position Salary Executive Director $50,000 Programs Director $40,000 Development Director (funded) $39,000 Budget: Program Group Strategy Budget National Programs Chapter Grant System (Unfunded) $50,000 SVA Scholarship Program $50,000 (Unfunded) Annual National Conference $35,000 (Unfunded) Regional Conferences (Funded) $34,000 Organizational Development VETT (Funded, 1 Intern) $12,000 Mental Health Program Project in Development Development Management and General Executive Staffing and Benefits $129,000 Executive Travel $4,000 Supplies and Contractual Services $7,300 TOTAL $321,300 $85,000 funded $236,000 (Unfunded) SUMMARY Student Veterans of America’s member chapters have made an incredible impact on the lives of thousands of veterans. United as SVA, student veterans are making a difference in this country, and have been for two years, including SVA’s integral role in the passage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Student Veterans of America is proud to continue serving America’s returning heroes and to play its role to ensure that they become America’s “Next Greatest Generation”.