NLU Dedicates Veterans Lounge as part of Veterans Day Celebrations
By Robert Schroeder
National Louis University commemorated Veterans Day 2012 with a series of events, culminating with the dedication and ribbon-cutting of its new Veterans Lounge at the Chicago campus.
The lounge is the first major piece of infrastructure built as part of NLU’s Education to Employment (E2) Veterans Initiative, funded by a grant received from the McCormick Foundation in January 2012.
“We have been given this opportunity by National Louis to put something aside from everyone else in the University, to have our own lounge, a place to stand out,” said Staff Sergeant Paul Millbrandt, Bachelor of Science in Management candidate and a veteran of action in Operation Enduring Freedom. “It’s incredible.”
NLU Director of Armed Service Relations John Dill emceed the ceremony, which began with the presentation of colors and singing of the U.S. National Anthem. Millbrandt spoke about his role as the president of the newly formed Student Veterans Association at NLU, and fellow student and Staff Sergeant Tammy Burton, Doctor of Community Psychology candidate, offered a moving address on the critical needs facing veterans returning from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The event concluded with the ribbon-cutting of the new Veterans Lounge and an observance of a moment of silence for the National Roll Call, observed nation-wide at 1 p.m. CST.
As an armed service member wounded in action, Millbrandt sees a need for a unique model to assist active duty and veteran soldiers seeking higher education opportunities.
“As a student veteran organization, we need to move this organization forward with the values of respect, loyalty and professional knowledge as our veterans move forward in their careers outside the University,” Millbrandt said. “This will assist student veterans with developing networking connections, leadership and competent skills…that will set [veterans] aside from others due to their service to their country and their education.”
Burton, who is pursuing her doctorate degree to lead services needed for active duty soldiers and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), described NLU’s initiative as an necessary extra step to ensure the post-military success of veterans.
“Some individuals don’t have the types of wounds we think of when they return; they have the wounds you would never know about unless you have a conversation with them,” Burton said. “This is a special group of veterans that we want to pay attention to, especially as educators, because they need an extra layer of support to make sure their next mission, coming home, is accomplished.”
NLU’s E2 Initiative, beginning this fall and running through 2014, aims to increase the percentage of students within at-risk groups. The key components of the E2 Veterans Program include helping military students integrate back to society by providing a military-friendly education and employment opportunities, both before and after graduation.
National Louis currently offers veterans a 10 percent tuition discount, and has been a member of the Yellow Ribbon Program, which matches contributions of institutions of higher education when tuition costs exceed the award offered by the Post 9/11 GI Bill. In addition, the university has run campuses in Washington, D.C. and McLean, VA as well as offered degree programs on the Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
In early 2012, NLU’s Office of Institutional Advancement invited alumni with military backgrounds from the Washington, D.C. and McLean, VA campuses to serve on a veterans task force to advise NLU faculty and staff building the program. Nick Chandler, M.S. in Management ’91, Mike Chandler, B.S. in Management ’06, Timothy Graves, B.S. in Management and Information Systems ’07 and Felipe Romo, B.S. in Management ’06 and Master of Business Administration ’08, provided valuable insight into the needs of today’s generation of veterans. Sue Shumate, former Executive Director of the McLean campus, and Jack James, former faculty at the McLean campus, also worked with the task force.