Veterans Affairs at SDState recently won the silver award for being a Military Friendly School by Victory Media for the sixth year in a row. The dedication and hard work of the Veterans Affairs Office can be seen in the outstanding services and programs that are provided to both active duty and veteran students. Here are some valuable programs and benefits offered through the Veterans Affairs Office.
1. Tuition Assistance
For service members seeking higher education, Veterans Affairs assists in getting students certified for tuition assistance or full coverage. Those who served or are serving in the South Dakota National Guard receive coverage for half of their tuition for up to four years of school. Service members who engaged in active duty are assisted by the G.I. Bill and have four years of their education completely covered. For more information on how you can qualify for this assistance, visit www.sdstate.edu/veterans-affairs-office/benefits .
2. Horses for Heroes
Veterans can attend six sessions held on campus each fall that focus on horse care and riding. Attendees learn about tack, grooming and riding through quality, hands-on experience. This recently added program serves as an outdoor recreational therapy for veterans who may be suffering from PTSD or other mental illnesses.
3. Writing Workshop and Book Club
Each fall and spring, the Veterans Affairs Office and the English department partner up on campus to host sessions where students can read, discuss and write about the selected book of the semester. The topics chosen center around military experience and culture, and those who participate in the writing portion of the club, qualify to receive college credit through the English department.
4. Golf Tournament
For the very first time, Veterans Affairs hosted a golf tournament at Edgebrook Golf Course in Brookings Sept. 15, 2018. The event included a silent auction, giveaways and, of course, golf. Veterans Affairs raised more than $6,400 for the Wounded Warriors Program at the event.
5. Armed Forces Association
This is a school-affiliated organization on campus for service members, family, friends and supporters of the armed forces. The club consists of both guardsmen and veterans and allows students to bond and connect over their military experiences. The club attends an annual winter retreat in the Black Hills, which includes snowmobiling activities through a partnership with the South Dakota Snowmobile Association.
6. Warrior Week
During the week leading up to Veterans Day, Veterans Affairs hosts activities on campus throughout the week to spread awareness for the services and programs available. The week begins with the Military Appreciation home football game and continues with other events throughout the week such as an “Ask A Veteran” question panel, guest speakers, laser tag games, weight lifting competition and more.
7. Veterans Retreat
This year marks the second Veterans Retreat, which will provide quality programming for 20 veterans in the Black Hills. The four-day event is no cost to the veterans and involves a day of snowmobiling provided in collaboration with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.
SDState’s Veterans Affairs Office has produced five scholarships. Thanks to Gene and Jo Anne Goodale, the $1,000 Michael Goodale Scholarship is awarded to a deserving veteran. In addition, with the generosity of the Flatlanders Militiamen, a local club of veterans, first responders and firefighters, four $1,000 scholarships are awarded.
SDState was honored as the first and only university in the state of South Dakota to be a Purple Heart Friendly Campus. In addition to having the only female Purple Heart recipient in the state (Connie Johnson, coordinator for Veterans Affairs), we also have six self-identified veteran student Purple Heart recipients.