UA Staff Provide Resources for Student Veterans

By Chase Reavis

The Razorback Reporter

UA student veterans receive benefits and accommodations including financial aid and prolonged time on tests from on-campus facilities.

The Veterans Resource and Information Center, VRIC, staff work with students and their dependents on a variety of college success factors, director Erika Gamboa said. Among these factors are college preparedness, financial aid, scholarships, registration and admission.

VRIC provides information for student veterans and sometimes refers students elsewhere on campus for further assistance, Gamboa said.

“We work with different departments across campus,” she said. “We have partnerships to make sure that the students have everything they need in order to be admitted, be enrolled and graduate.”

VRIC also informs students of career opportunities, because the goal is not for students to “just graduate, but also have a plan afterwards, like a career,” Gamboa said.

One avenue for opportunity is the Sam M. Walton College of Business, specifically Meredith Adkins, director for corporate relations and outreach.

Adkins receives releases from corporations – including Amazon – that are seeking veterans for employment and forwards them onto Gamboa to give student veterans the opportunities, Adkins said.

Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt Transport Services are listed on VRIC’s page on the UA website as veteran-seeking employers, in addition to organizations such as Hire Heroes USA, Show Your Stripes and Goodwill Industries. Hire Heroes USA provides employment workshops, career coaching and job sourcing for veterans, and their work has resulted in the employment of over 18,000 veterans, according to their website.

Adkins works closely with Gamboa to be sure that student veterans get the opportunities meant for them, Adkins said.

From Oct. 23 to Oct. 27, the Office of Diversity and Inclusivity will work with Walton College to present diversity week, Adkins said. The event is “to celebrate diversity and inclusion in the workplace” and veterans are “specifically reached out to as part of that event.”

Beyond campus support for student veterans, staff members also refer student veterans to the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks, especially for mental health concerns, Gamboa said.

Student veterans can request accommodations during tests and classes, such as extended time, transcribers and note-takers, but those accommodations must be approved by the UA Center for Educational Access after a meeting and documentation, said Laura James, Associate Director of Student Access for the Center for Educational Access.

“Circumstances and disability-related barriers vary based upon the individual, (so) there are not specific accommodations that students who are currently serving in the military or are veterans typically request,” James said.

The case-by-case nature of CEA’s offered accommodations means that not all student veterans can be assumed to be afforded the same accommodations.

In addition to helping student veterans with general college success, VRIC also works to make sure student veterans who need accommodation receive that accommodation.

“Our purpose is to help these students graduate – all the ones who come through our door,” Gamboa said.

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