By Veronica Torres
The Razorback Reporter
The more than 1,300 students who have a military affiliation are working with UA officials to ease their college transition through outreach and assistance.
Erika Gamboa, director of the Veterans Resource and Information Center relates service members’ introduction to university life to that of students without military affiliation.
Many students without military affiliation seek help from counselors in high school and some learned through university tours and through their own experience.
Most students affiliated with the military, however, come from active duty, Gamboa said.
Senior James LaRocco came to the university after serving in the Army.
All students experience similar application hurdles, regardless of their military status; figuring out how to pay for school and enrolling in classes, for example.
There are generally two types of military affiliates, active duty and reserve.
Active duty refers to someone who is in the military 24/7 with a normal contract of four years, but some retire, Gamboa said.
LaRocco served on active duty for nine years and was deployed three times.
Students communicate with faculty so as to stay on track with school to not get behind, Gamboa said.
Sometimes professors have good communication sometimes they have not so good communication, Larocco said.
LaRocco is a physical education teacher intern and his professor has been helpful an open line of communication, he said.
In regard to paying for school, the university uses two GI Bills to help students, and the UofA is a yellow ribbon school.
“The Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program (Yellow Ribbon Program) is a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill that allows veterans to attend private schools and graduate programs costing more than the state tuition cap,” according to the New GI Bill website. “Under the program, participating colleges and universities must offer a veterans-only scholarship which the VA will then match up to the full cost of tuition and fees.”
Students also are eligible for financial aid from the university. Applicable students are given $1,000 from the university and the VA matches that to lower tuition cost by $2,000, Gamboa said.
The Veterans Resource and Information Center has multiple partnerships across campus and Fayetteville to help students in other ways.
The center works with Counseling and Psychology Services, the Center for Education Access and Veterans Affairs and mental health counselors outside of the university.
They have created different groups since the beginning in 2009, but have a student veterans’ Registered Student Organizations on campus. The RSO has a small turnout but is hoping to grow. The RSO has approximately 150 members with five active members, said senior Derrick Calhoun II, president of the group and a Marine veteran.
“We do have the support, not just from us but from different departments and different students, wanting to help students,” Gamboa said.