• 61°

Mountwest pledges increased support for student veterans

Huntington, W.Va. — In honor of Veterans Day, Mountwest Community & Technical College joined higher education leaders from across West Virginia yesterday to pledge increased support for student veterans as part of the State’s ‘5 Star Challenge’ initiative, which launched earlier this fall. The Challenge, which calls on institutions to adopt a set of exemplary standards for supporting student veterans, is a tribute to the military tradition of issuing “challenge coins” to service members who embody the values and standards of their military units.

Mountwest has received national recognition throughout the years for its dedication to student veterans. Military Times named Mountwest the best two-year college for vets in the nation for 2013 and best community and technical college for vets in the nation for 2014, as well as ranking it in the top 20 Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges for 2016. Additionally, Mountwest was recently designated a 2016 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media Inc. for the sixth year in a row. Richard Gross, Mountwest’s military programs coordinator, said the college is happy to participate in the 5 Star Challenge and looks forward to discovering new ways to serve their students.

“We’re very proud of our established programs and protocols that aid student veterans from the initial point of inquiry through graduation,” said Gross. “That being said, we’re always looking for ways to expand and improve upon our existing efforts, and I think the 5 Star Challenge is a great opportunity to evaluate what we’re doing now and pinpoint opportunities to grow.”

Some services and accommodations Mountwest currently offers include a veteran’s resource room equipped with two computers, a shadow box on display with an ID (dog tag) that represents each veteran completing a certificate or degree, a veterans club, a monthly veteran bulletin, daily military history, tracking each veteran in-attendance and schedule changes, counselling on education benefits, information on veteran servicing organizations and early registration.

In accepting the Challenge, Mountwest has committed to 1) provide a signed commitment from Dr. Keith Cotroneo, Mountwest president, to adopt best practices and standards, 2) emphasize a focus on increasing access and affordability to higher education for student veterans, 3) provide increased academic support including priority registration for classes, 4) enhance social networks for veterans on campus, and 5) encourage greater collaboration with community organizations working to meet the needs of military service members. A detailed outline of the Challenge can be found at www.cfwv.com, the state’s free college and career-planning website.

Mountwest has 84 registered student veterans for the fall 2015 semester, 39 of which are active duty.

The 5 Star Challenge is an initiative of the Office of Veterans Education and Training Programs within the Division of Student Affairs at the Commission and WVCTCS. In addition to issuing the challenge to campuses, the Commission and WVCTCS are committing to providing more resources to help student veterans navigate the higher education system and find support on campus and in the community.