There are many days throughout the year that our nation honors and recognizes military veterans who’ve helped make freedom possible. For Ohio State, these efforts go far past those few days — they are part of the institution’s DNA.
From those attending the university as students to those who make the city of Columbus their home, Ohio State lends a helping hand to vets in a number of different ways. Here are five ways the university serves military veterans.
1. A great place to go to school
Military veterans looking to further their education have a comfortable home at Ohio State.
The university has been recognized in a number of different places for the quality of education and academic services it offers veterans. In 2015, USA Today named Ohio State it’s No. 1 school for military veterans, and the university has also received high marks from the Military Times and U.S. News & World Report.
In addition to its institutional rankings, the Ohio State student group Vets4Vets has been cited for its work helping student vets. Much of this work grows out of the university’s Office of Military and Veterans Services, which provides vets with what they need to succeed.
Mike Carrell, assistant vice provost and director of veterans services, said vets transitioning to college can use the support system his team provides, “It’s a transition from a culture that’s entirely based on the mission and the team — where your personal needs are subservient to nonexistent at times — to a culture where it’s all about you and taking care of yourself,” he said.
2. An innovative treatment
The arts can be a powerful form of expression, and Ohio State is using its strength in the arts to provide an outlet for veterans and their caregivers.
The university’s Department of Theatre hosts workshops for veterans, active duty personnel, family members and counselors. Participants read passages from the works of Shakespeare, while under the guidance of the department’s MFA students. Organizers say that reading these stories aloud is a way for participants to express their feelings. For instance, a military mother read a speech about a Shakespeare character who experiences a profound loss.
“It’s about grief, but she put it under this character,” said Kevin McClatchy, an assistant professor in Ohio State’s Department of Theatre. “The room came to a standstill when she did it. It was unforgettable.”
3. Helping with housing
Many Ohio veterans and military service members return home from tours of duty to face housing challenges including foreclosures, litigious landlords and problems with debt. The issues often feel insurmountable.
Jenna C. Grassbaugh ’14, a veteran and Gold Star wife, makes the transition a little easier with an initiative she began for veterans and their immediate family members. The Captain Jonathan D. Grassbaugh Veterans Project at the Moritz College of Law provides volunteer lawyers and Moritz students who offer free legal assistance for housing and consumer issues.
She used seed money from insurance she received when her husband was killed in Iraq in 2007 to launch the project and provide a “long-lasting legacy,” she said.
4. Serving those who’ve served
Ohio State’s College of Social Work now offers unique, specialized training for caregivers so they can better assist veterans and their families. Starting last month, the college launched an advanced certificate aimed at teaching caregivers such as nurses, social workers, therapists and others about the challenges military members face and how those challenges may influence their mental, emotional and physical health.
The college worked with Ohio State’s Office of Military and Veterans Services to develop the training. The 14-week course also trains caregivers how to better connect veterans with resources in the community.
“It’s part of giving back. It’s part of what we as a university should be doing for those who have sacrificed for us,” said Lisa Durham, the College of Social Work’s assistant dean of Strategic Initiatives and Community Engagement.
The program is largely funded by a nonprofit group called Run Down the Demons, which raises awareness around veteran mental health. One of the group’s co-founders is a graduate student in the College of Social Work.
5. An important regional entry point
Ohio State’s five regional campuses — Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark and ATI in Wooster — offer veterans an education that is a little more convenient, accessible, affordable and personal.
The Lima, Mansfield and Marion campuses offer Student-Veteran Community Advocate scholarships, provided through the university’s Office of Military and Veterans Services to improve services, promote inclusion and sponsor local activities/events for the fellow student-veterans. Currently, 134 veterans are enrolled on all regional campuses.
The campuses provide students with access to all of Ohio State’s vast resources, including libraries, research facilities, student activities and countless other benefits.