UW-Eau Claire receives a silver award for being military-friendly

The ranking is an improvement over last year’s bronze award

Military+Friendly+was+started+to+analyze+and+provide+the+best+opportunities+for+veterans+and+other+military-connected+students%2C+according+to+its+website.

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Military Friendly was started to analyze and provide the best opportunities for veterans and other military-connected students, according to its website.

Improving upon the bronze ranking it received last year, UW-Eau Claire received a silver medal for being military friendly. 

According to Military Friendly’s website, the organization has spent 19 years creating and putting out results for the “longest-running, most comprehensive review of college and university investments in serving military and veteran students”.

There are four award categories an organization can place within:

  • Top 10: the best
  • Gold: within 10% of the tenth ranked organization
  • Silver: within 20% of the tenth ranked organization
  • Bronze: within 30% of the tenth ranked organization

Miranda Cross-Schindler, manager of Military and Veterans Services, said in 2020, UW-Eau Claire received a bronze award for its efforts toward veterans and military-connected students, and the team has only done more to improve this score as they received a silver medal.

“It’s super exciting (to improve the ranking),” Cross-Schindler said. “It confirms what we are doing really matters and I look forward to this every year, hoping we maintain or improve our ranking.”

According to Military Friendly, the website was created to analyze and provide the best opportunities for veterans and other military-connected students. 

“By setting a standard, promoting it, and raising the bar over time, it provides long-term, positive reinforcement for American organizations to invest in programs that improve the lives of veterans,” the website said.

As of 2018, the percentage of student veterans enrolled as full-time students is at 75% according to The Postsecondary National Policy Institute. Over 650,000 veterans used military benefits in order to pursue higher education. 

VQTORY, the company that runs Military Friendly, uses their database to analyze different metrics as a checklist to see if organizations — like UW-Eau Claire — make the cut so organizations can offer the best to those who are using either their own benefits or their parents, Cross-Schindler said.

The database looks at whether the organization has a veterans center dedicated to the military-connected student population, whether there is a dedicated person to assist students, have programs for the students, etc., she said.

“They also look at graduation, retention and job percentage rates, what we do to support military dependence, programs, awareness training and more,” Cross-Schindler said.

Down the road, UW-Eau Claire will require veteran’s awareness training as Tier 2 Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity training, Cross-Schindler said. The training goes over military life 101: acronyms, do’s and don’ts, support and more.

As the manager of around 500 students, Cross-Schindler said she dedicates 100% of her time to military-connected students. It’s different from other schools that may only have the ability to dedicate 25% of someone’s time if that.

Killy Kitzmann, a fourth-year psychology student and U.S. Navy Corpsman veteran, gave credit to Cross-Schindler and the center for making UW-Eau Claire so military-friendly.

“Miranda and the Veteran Center make this place exceptionally welcoming,” Kitzmann said. “The work she does for us behind closed doors is what keeps the lights on.”

There’s always room for improvement, Cross-Schindler said. The center doesn’t want to just live up to the title of being a silver-awarded center, but to make the life of military students better.

One of their goals is no complacency, Cross-Schindler said. The center surveys students and connects to outside networks.

“I don’t want to do my outside research and make a bunch of changes assuming that’s what the military-connected students would want,” Cross-Schindler said. “We survey the students to get their opinions on what needs to be changed or left the same.”

Better acknowledgment of veterans is one thing the university can improve on, Kitzmann said.

“We could be doing events which would provide local organizations and the university with donations for veterans,” Kitzmann said. “It’s great to see the center is provided with money from the university itself, but there could be more for outside programs.”

With the help of Military Friendly rankings, the university hopes to raise more money for its center and actively put more money into programs for the military-connected students, Cross-Schindler said.

For any information on UWEC’s veteran and military services, please contact Miranda Cross-Schindler at [email protected] or 715-836-5212. 

Lunderville can be reached at [email protected]