Armstrong works to create a campus experience specifically designed to cater to all active/reserve military personnel and retired veterans. Initiatives put in place by Armstrong’s military education coordinator Phil Gore have come to fruition as the university ranks one of the top 10 institutions considered to be “Best for Vets” by the Military Times.
The standard military-affiliated student looks at campus life from a different perspective, often entering the classroom straight from the battlefield. George Altman of the Military Times points out: “Student veterans often have a lot more on their plates than do 19-year-old classmates focused on which frat party to go to,” Altman said.
Gore had quite the task ahead of him when he joined Armstrong in 2013 but creating a military and veteran friendly campus culture aimed at sustaining an understanding environment proved to be the challenge he was looking for.
“We can talk about numbers and retention all day long,” Gore said, referring to the idea that positive statistics are usually the ultimate goal. “But I think that some of the programs we’ve developed are what’s really beneficial.”
Gore quickly spawned throngs of initiatives such as the Green Zone initiative which focuses on educating professors and other scholastic personnel in aiding military affiliated students on their transition from the battlefront to the classroom.
“As of 2014, we successfully processed 909 veterans’ GI Bill benefits…with 77 of those individuals being active duty service members,” Gore said. Established in 1944, the GI Bill offers free college experience to those military personnel who seek to continue their education.
Ultimately, Gore is happy to see figures like these, but still believes there is work to be done.
“We still have a few issues that we’re focusing on,” Gore said. “Implementing prior learning assessments, making priority registration available, and putting together a military based student orientation for incoming military students are all things that could help.”