GW Signs Pledge to Support Student Veterans

Pictured left to right: President of GW Veterans Tommy Davis, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Terri Harris Reed, Tillman Military Scholar and fourth-year GW medical student D’Onior Felton, Marie Tillman and GW trustee B.J. Penn, M.S. ’80.

July 26, 2012
George Washington is one of the first universities in the country to sign a pledge to provide resources, programs and policies that further its support of student veterans on campus.

The pledge, signed by at least 50 universities across the country, is part of the education pillar of “Got Your 6,” a campaign to support veterans through jobs, education, housing, health, family and leadership. The Pat Tillman Foundation, Student Veterans of America and Operation College Promise, all veteran support organizations, will lead the charge in collecting pledges from 500 colleges and universities. A kickoff event for the campaign was held July 24 in Jack Morton Auditorium. Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Terri Harris Reed signed the pledge for GW. GW student veteran Tommy Davis, a senior in the Columbian College and president of GW Veterans, a student organization that aims to build community among individuals with military experience or affiliation, also made welcoming remarks.

During the event, GW trustee B.J. Penn, M.S. ’80, who formerly served as acting secretary and assistant secretary of the Navy, addressed the group of student veterans in attendance.

“You all bring perseverance, leadership and performance—three very rare but important traits that will serve you well throughout your life,” Mr. Penn said. “You have proven them already just to get here. Now you have to have fun, because if you aren’t having fun, you aren’t doing it right.”

Mr. Penn added student veterans, who have shown they are proven leaders in their military careers, have so much to contribute to a university, and can offer support to their peers, like the freshmen who are away from home for the first time in their lives. “You know what that’s like,” he said.

Marie Tillman also spoke about the importance of supporting veterans, especially through continuing education. Friends and family created the Pat Tillman Foundation after Mr. Tillman was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2004. Since its founding, the organization has, in part, awarded more than $3.2 million to Tillman Military Scholars to support collegiate educations. The fourth class of scholars was in attendance July 24.

“The focus of the organization now is to provide educational support and build a community of scholars that are inspired by Pat’s leadership, his spirit of service and his desire for education,” Ms. Tillman said.

In addition to signing the “Got Your 6” pledge, GW supports its veterans through the Office of Veteran Services. GW was the first university to accept the original GI Bill for veterans and continues to support veterans through the Yellow Ribbon Program, a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill that provides additional benefits for veterans with active duty service on or after 9/11. During the 2011-12 academic year, GW enrolled more than 950 student-veterans, 460 of whom applied to the Yellow Ribbon Program. GW also focuses on engaging veterans in community service through its AmeriCorps VISTA-supported Veteran Service Initiative. GI Jobs ranked GW among its “military-friendly” institutions.