Campus News Society & Culture

UGA again named among top Military Friendly institutions

UGA’s Student Veterans Association placed flags in the memorial garden outside the Miller Learning Center for Veterans Day. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

The university has been in the top three for seven consecutive years, with three years at No. 1

Viqtory Media has once again named the University of Georgia among the top Military Friendly tier 1 research institutions in the nation, listing UGA at No. 2. UGA was recognized as the top-ranked Military Friendly school in 2023, 2021 and 2017, and has made the national top-three for seven consecutive years.

Jon Segars, director of the Student Veterans Resource Center (SVRC), said that the quality of the students and the commitment from alumni and the university community are what makes UGA’s support of student veterans successful.

“We start with students who surpass very high standards just to get to UGA, and we enjoy a tremendous commitment from the entire Bulldog family in supporting these veterans,” said Segars. “We can sustain our success and grow as an organization through a culture of placing people first and effectively leverage the concept of veterans guiding other veterans in transition.”

Jon Segars is director of the Student Veterans Resource Center. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith/UGA)

To support student veterans and service members, the SVRC works to ease the transition from the military to higher education, improve the UGA experience, and facilitate career readiness. In collaboration with units across campus, the SVRC guides students to maximize their military benefits and explore all their available opportunities. These efforts produce positive outcomes for the students, as UGA enjoys a 91% retention rate and a 92% graduation rate for its student veterans.

In partnership with the Office of Institutional Research, the SVRC began a joint project to widen the net cast for students with connections to the military. As a result, the SVRC has doubled the number of students it serves and the number of dependents using the GI Bill. Additionally, the SVRC has gone from awarding $261,000 in 2022 and 2023 in student scholarships and grants to now awarding $344,000 annually.

Student veterans Brennen Sanders, Gabriela Castillo and Dan Triplett sort flags with SRVC Director Jon Segar at the Student Veterans Resource Center for this year’s Veterans Day installation. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith/UGA)

UGA’s student veterans represent a diverse range of academic and life stages and experiences. Forty percent of student veterans are on UGA’s extended campuses, 65% are graduate students, and 97% of undergraduate student veterans are transfer students.

UGA student veterans are 35 years old on average, and though they bring a wealth of global and life experiences to the classroom, they also carry the responsibilities and demands of adult life. Many of UGA’s 356 student veterans have families, dependents, hold full-time jobs and commute longer distances to campus. More than 20 % of these students are still serving with the active-duty military or in the reserve component forces. Navigating these personal, professional and academic responsibilities can be extremely challenging.

Student veterans place flags in the UGA Memorial Garden in honor of veterans in the state of Georgia. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith/UGA)

Dan Triplett, a student Navy veteran studying social studies education from Middleburg, FL, described the challenges faced by transitioning from military to civilian life, and how the support at UGA helped him meet those challenges.

“I faced the absence of the structured environment I had known throughout my adult life. The consistent paychecks, access to free healthcare, and the guarantee of a safety net are suddenly gone, leaving behind an uneasy feeling if one hasn’t planned accordingly,” said Triplett. “The SVRC became my new sense of home. Not only did I rediscover a community atmosphere, but the staff also understood my struggles and knew how to address them. I’m deeply grateful for the unwavering support of the SVRC and the individuals who have stood by me throughout my college journey so far.”

As a former student veteran himself, Segars said that the relationships with the students and supporting their journeys makes his role particularly meaningful.

“I am honored to be part of a team which fosters a relationship with each individual veteran, as many of them are finding a shift in identity and seeking a new purpose,” he said.