UW-Madison: Named military-friendly school

CONTACT: John Bechtol, [email protected], 608-263-5700

MADISON – The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been named to the first-ever list of military-friendly schools.

Created by G.I. Jobs, a magazine produced by veterans, the 2010 list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in recruitment, retention and providing services for veteran students. The list is also intended to be a resource for veterans pursuing a college degree.

Currently, UW-Madison enrolls more than 600 students with military experience and is making new outreach efforts to the population.

John Bechtol, assistant dean of students for veterans, says the university is doing everything it can to serve the population and is quickly shedding lingering stereotypes about the campus community.

“There is nothing left as far as veterans’ resources that Madison doesn’t have,” says Bechtol, who is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and previously directed the university’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program.

In his role, Bechtol works with the Center for the First-Year Experience to ensure that student veterans have a smooth transition into campus life in addition to providing current students with information on benefits, services and employment opportunities.

He also contacts veterans whose admissions applications were declined and talks to them about what they can do to be accepted to UW-Madison in the future.

His position was created in fall 2008 to address the unique needs of veteran students.

“They have a thirst for knowledge, and they want to get everything they can out of the classroom,” he says.

In addition to the proximity to campus of the Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs, the Dane County Veterans Service Office and the Veterans Administration Hospital, UW-Madison is one of the few schools that has all three ROTC branches.

Vets for Vets, a student organization dedicated to providing support and assistance to student veterans, will implement a new program this fall in which they contact the incoming students with military experience and take them to coffee within the first few weeks of school “just so the incoming vet knows someone on campus,” Bechtol says.

G.I. Jobs publisher Rich McCormack says the list is an important honor for institutions around the country.

“This list is especially important now because the recently enacted post-9/11 GI Bill has given veterans virtually unlimited financial means to go to school,”

For more information about Bechtol’s work, visit http://www.news.wisc.edu/15617

To view the complete G.I. Jobs list, visit http://www.militaryfriendlyschools.com/pr09.aspx