I am writing in response to the comments made by Lester Monts, the University’s senior vice provost for academic affairs, in the Daily last month regarding the University’s handling of student veterans (Group wants to ease transition for vets, 09/18/2007). I am a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and recently ended my active duty service. I am currently attending Washtenaw Community College because of the difficulties that I had with the academic affairs office at The University of Michigan.

Monts states: “All of our academic offices are first class and I think they are capable of providing the kind of services that these students need.” I have to disagree with that statement; in no way did academic offices at the University provide me with the services I needed. For a long time, I had planned on attending the University, but when it came time to apply, I found it very frustrating that nobody in any of the academic affairs offices seemed to know anything about veterans.

I called the University’s Office of Admissions in September 2006, hoping to talk to the school’s veterans’ affairs official. I was transferred seven times to different departments and had to ask the same questions repeatedly. The last response that I can recall getting from them was that I had to be accepted to the University before I needed to talk to them. The overall impression that I got from those phone conversations was that either the University doesn’t know what to do with veterans or that it simply does not care.

Monts also said: “We don’t feel the need to designate individuals to become experts of veterans’ issues because of the small number of veterans we have here at the University.” The thought that immediately crossed my mind was that maybe the University has a small number of student veterans because it is so hard for veterans to actually talk to someone at the University and get their important questions answered.

In particular, these questions can be related to tuition and GI Bill matters, living arrangements, transfer credits and especially filling out the application for acceptance. The application is highly geared toward high school students and has no special instructions for veterans or other people that would not be able to fill out certain “required” fields such as test scores, current classes or teacher recommendations. Questions about all of these issues were left unanswered by the University, despite my numerous phone calls.

I found it ironic that the essay on the application I was trying to fill out was about diversity, and even though as a veteran I would be contributing to the diversity of this school, I could not find anyone able to help me get information.

I am not trying to discredit the University; I am merely trying to express that having a Office for Student Veterans’ Affairs at the University would have helped me immensely. Transitioning out of the military has been the hardest thing that I have ever done, even harder than the seven months I served in Iraq.

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