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Serving Those Who Served

The brave men and women who work to preserve our freedom deserve to pursue their dreams. UTA is dedicated to ensuring that veterans have every opportunity for success.
by Teresa Woodard Schnyder

George Young can still remember the mix of emotions in his mother's eyes when he raised his right hand and took the oath of enlistment for the U.S. Marines. "She was proud. But she also seemed disappointed. She almost cried," he says. "I told her it was going to be OK because I was still going to go to school. Education was very important to her and my father."

It was 1987. Young was 17 years old. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps right out of high school, completing 11 years of active duty and almost 10 additional years in the Marine Corps Reserve. He was deployed to southwest Asia and Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s and was re-activated soon after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"I got a call from my sergeant major, and he said, ‘They're looking for someone to deploy, and I think you'd be perfect for the job.'" Young says. "When the Marine Corps calls, you don't say no. So about a week later I had orders."

George Young

George Young

Young had to take military leave from his full-time job at the U.S. Postal Service to deploy as a reservist. He spent 27 years working for the postal service in total and about 20 years in the military. All the while that conversation with his mother weighed on him.

"When I served, I tried to go to school," he says. "I even did courses here and there, but when you're committed to your country, you may be here today and gone tomorrow. So education was always in the back of my mind."

Young relocated several times throughout his service, and his final move brought him to North Texas, where a conversation at church resurrected a desire to fulfill his mother's wishes.

"A couple of church members were UTA alumni. They were talking about how great UTA was, and I realized I didn't live that far from campus," he says. "I started looking on the website and saw they were very veteran friendly. So I decided to go ahead and apply."

Young retired early from the U.S. Postal Service and took his first UTA class during the 2014 spring semester, joining more than 3,000 other military veterans and families on campus. He says the transition to college, even as an older veteran, was smooth.

"It felt almost like going through boot camp again, wondering where I was supposed to check in and where I would go for help, but UTA walked me through the process and made everything easy to navigate," he says. "I was sold."

UTA's commitment to serving those who have served is gaining recognition. Military Times named UTA to its "Best for Vets: Colleges 2017" list for the fourth year in a row. On the 2017 list, UTA is No. 20 in the nation and the No. 1 four-year university in Texas for veterans and their families. The rankings are based on a school's culture, academic outcomes and quality, student support, academic policies, cost, and financial aid.

"That No. 1 ranking in the state of Texas is just outstanding," says retired U.S. Army Gen. Benjamin S. Griffin, who also serves as a special adviser to UTA President Vistasp Karbhari. "It just speaks to the commitment that this University, the leadership, and the faculty have to supporting veterans. It's an outstanding achievement of which all of us associated with UTA should be very proud."

In 2012, UTA received a federal grant to implement the Veterans Upward Bound program. That was a turning point, allowing the University to increase the services available to veterans.

"Veterans have given so much of their time for our country and we owe it to them to help them get back to their futures through education," says Lisa Thompson, senior director of TRiO Pre-College Programs and Veterans Upward Bound.

UTA now has a Veterans Assistance Center on campus. It is a stand-alone building where veterans can apply for and learn about tuition benefits and scholarship opportunities, as well as receive assistance navigating the college experience. A full-time employee of the Veterans Administration works inside the center, helping veterans, active duty military, and eligible family members understand the assistance they qualify for—even before they have decided to enroll.

Young and several other student veterans also work at the center, providing mentoring, tutoring, and counseling their fellow veterans seeking guidance.

"Lots of times veterans have acronyms in their heads. They're used to taking or giving orders, and then you come into a civilian atmosphere where the jargon is different," Young says. "I try to explain things from their points of view."

George Young during his military days

George Young during his military days. He served as a U.S. Marine for about 20 years.

In 2016, the offerings expanded when UTA was chosen by the Small Business Administration to be the site of a Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC). The VBOC connects veterans and their family members with resources to help them be successful entrepreneurs.

"There are 19 VBOC sites across the United States, so for UTA to have one of those 19 centers is an amazing opportunity for UTA and for veterans," says Patrick Alcorn, director of the UTA VBOC. "Anyone who has worn the uniform has a specific level of quality, specific character traits, a skill set that makes them ideal entrepreneurs."

Alcorn, a West Point graduate who served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says to simply say thanks to a veteran is not enough. He says the United States needs to ensure veterans can find, get, and keep good jobs after their time in the service ends.

"I transitioned out of the Army in 1991 and started my first business in 2004. That's 13 years that it took me to grasp the system," he says. "Veterans should not have to wait 13 years if they've got a dream in their heart."

UTA's varied and successful programs for veterans are a major point of pride for Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, who represents the University in the Texas legislature.

"I served for 21 years. [UTA] supports veterans in every way possible, and I appreciate the fact that they do that," Tinderholt says. "I think it's really important if someone is considering going to a state school in Texas, or any school for that matter, that UTA be at the top of their list."

Young has no doubt he made the right choice.

"I'm proud to know this school stands behind veterans," he says. "A lot of schools could just say they do, but to prove it and to be ranked as No. 1 in Texas—that says a lot."

Young expects to graduate in 2018 with a degree in business management, fulfilling the promise he made to his mother 30 years ago. He wishes she were here to see it.

"She passed away before I could finish," he says. "But I'm really not doing it only for her sake. This is for me, too.

Dedicated Support

UTA offers many programs and services specially tailored to support veterans

Veterans Orientation

Knowing the traditional New Maverick Orientation that UTA offers to incoming freshmen would likely not answer student veterans’ questions, UTA designed a special Veterans Orientation tailored to their needs. Learn More

Advisers, Counselors, and Special Programs

UTA’s University College, School of Social Work, and College of Business offer dedicated advisers, counselors, and special programs.

The Office for Students with Disabilities

The Office for Students with Disabilities works with veterans who need individualized accommodations or support. Learn More

Veterans Bachelor of Science in Nursing (VBSN)

UTA was one of the first universities in the nation to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create a Veterans Bachelor of Science in Nursing (VBSN) Program, giving students credit hours for their military medical service.

The SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society

The SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society recognizes veterans with superior academic performances. Learn More


MavVets is a student-veterans organization dedicated to building camaraderie between veterans and offering community service opportunities. Learn More

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