State veterans secretary meets UW-Superior students - Feb 4, 2014 - Veteran and Nontraditional Student Center - UW-Superior News and Events

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State veterans secretary meets UW-Superior students

Posted on Feb 4, 2014
Secretary John Scocos held a listening session with veteran students and staff of the Veteran and Nontraditional Student Center.
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Secretary John A. Scocos addressing the media and campus community.

Secretary John A. Scocos addressing the media and campus community.

Fifteen UW-Superior students with military experience were able to connect one on one with the Wisconsin Secretary of Veterans Affairs John Scocos on Monday.

Students explained their appreciation for the Veteran and Nontraditional Student Center on campus and the services it provides. Scocos thanked them as well.

"I want to thank all of you for your service today… It's on you to make a difference at this great University when you leave here," he said.

Secretary Scocos' listening session at UW-Superior is part of a series throughout the state of Wisconsin. Students appreciated having Scocos' undivided attention on educational and military-related issues that they face both in school and at home.

"It was a wonderful experience to get the chance to explain the common causes and issues that we face here at the university level and for him to understand that that, and turn around and take that information and fix them is a huge thing," said Brad Hammond, senior in business administration at UW-Superior who served in Afghanistan in 2012.

For Hammond, the top issue for him was the future of the center. "The ability for veterans and service members to go and interact with one another was a top priority for me and others at the round table discussion," he said.

"The one thing that is very important for me at this center is the ability to bounce around your ideas, frustrations, accomplishments, and achievements, to be able to share that with somebody that is like-minded in this educational and academic environment."

Hammond is still active in the military service once a month in the reserves and said without the center, some veteran students might miss out. "Without it, some of us wouldn't thrive, and may not be able to finish our degrees. So this center is essential to us here."

In fall 2013, 86 veteran students were enrolled at UW-Superior and another 54 students were dependents of a spouse of a military member, making a total of 140 students receiving G.I. benefits.

For the fourth year in a row, UW-Superior was named a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs magazine. Thirty-five percent of UW-Superior's student population is also considered to be nontraditional (age 25 or older).

Scocos has a long and distinguished record of service to his state and country. He met with UW-Superior Chancellor Renée Wachter before joining the students in the Multicultural Center for the open forum.

Even as he answered their questions, Scocos had some questions and comments of his own.

"I think our state is one of the most progressive in the nation when it comes to taking care of our veterans. We had our own G.I. Bill before the federal G.I. Bill. Our focus for the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs this year is employment of veterans.

"We have about 12,000 unemployed veterans," he said, urging educational institutions to partner to create career paths for them."These listening sessions have been a great venue for us to solve some of the issues that we face."

Several community veteran offices were also represented for the round table discussion and were on hand to be able to assist students. Among that group were State Rep. Nick Milroy, alumnus, who is also a veteran; Lt. Col. Karl Fischbach, Air Force ROTC; Trevor Welsch, new Douglas County veterans services officer; Andy Lisak, Douglas County Administrator and Tony Guerra, Red Cross.

Scocos was appointed the first cabinet Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs by Governor Scott Walker. He is the chief advocate for the nearly 400,000 veterans of Wisconsin.

News Contact: Tom Hansen | 715-394-8260 | thansen7{atuws}
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