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UT Arlington prepares to meet needs of student veterans

News Release — 6 July 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Teresa Newton, (817) 272-2761, teresa.newton@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - A forum at The University of Texas at Arlington this week will educate faculty and staff on how to help veterans transition to college students.

The forum on veterans' benefits, programs and resources is set for Wednesday, July 8, on the UT Arlington campus.

Universities are preparing for more veterans to enroll in courses to take advantage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, which go into effect Aug. 1.

"We have men and women who have served their country, and we want them to have an environment that is welcoming and safe," said Dianne Hengst, director of the Office for Students with Disabilities and a member of UT Arlington's Student Veteran Advisory Council.

The forum aims to inform faculty and staff members of various resources available to veterans, both on and off the UT Arlington campus.

Some student veterans may need assistance with physical or learning disabilities, counseling for post-traumatic stress syndrome or merely fellowship with other veterans, Hengst said. Hearing loss is the most common disability of Post 9/11 veterans, she said.

The University's Student Veteran Advisory Council organized in 2007 to identify ways to help veterans transition to being students and to create a veteran-friendly campus, she said.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Administration estimates 460,000 student veterans for the fall semester, an increase of more than 100,000 from fall 2008, according to a recent story by the Associated Press.

To date, 63 veterans have signed up for the new GI Bill benefits for the fall semester, said Anita Perez, benefits coordinator for UT Arlington's Veterans Affairs office. That number should increase as more veterans receive their certificate of eligibility from the VA, she said.

An average of 525 veterans enroll at UT Arlington each fall and spring semester, Perez said. For spring 2009, approximately 450 students used federal GI benefits to attend classes, while another 100 used benefits from Texas' Hazelwood Act, a state veterans' benefit program. Those numbers include veterans and veteran dependents, Perez said.

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