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Veterans Talk about Hunter, And the Fire Is Friendly

Hunter College is attracting increasing numbers of ex-service people - 181 veterans and their dependents are enrolled this year - and one major reason is the quality of the services that the college dedicates to meeting their unique needs.

The extent of those services, and the veterans' appreciation of them, were given a full airing at a luncheon at Roosevelt House hosted by President Raab to mark the upcoming Veterans Day. The former soldiers, sailors and marines, many of whom had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, were asked to talk candidly about their Hunter experiences and to offer suggestions on ways the college can improve programs for them.

The positive feedback came quickly. Daniel Alexander, a Navy veteran in the Social Research graduate program, said he had attended three other universities, none with veteran support services to match Hunter's.  "The second I applied here, they reached out to me," he said.  "It's a big reason why I came to Hunter." 

Army veteran Henry Brady, who had spent the morning on a surveillance operation as part of his State Department Diplomatic Security internship, said, "You really go out of your way to take care of the veterans."   Another Army veteran, Colleen Evans, a media studies major graduating in January, described her experience as "amazing" and told President Raab, "You've made it personal.  Hunter College has been great."

Several of the student veterans had been displaced by Hurricane Sandy from their dorm rooms at the badly damaged Brookdale campus but with the help of Hunter's Student Veterans Services found space in the 97th Street Residences.  "You guys were a big help," said Johnathon [sic] Lang, a ex-Cavalry scout who is now president of the Student Veterans Club. Lang also praised Hunter's tuition deferment program which, in recognition the fact that GI Bill benefits often arrive late, allows veterans to pay their tuition up to the last day of a semester.  It can make the difference between staying in school or dropping out for non-payment.

The veterans, who are almost invariably older than their fellow Hunter students, shared their opinions freely. Jose Cabrera, a lance corporal in the Marines who is studying childhood education, spoke about the importance of education as a career, pointing out that "not enough veterans go into teaching" and adding, "We can get students thinking about sacrifice in ways they haven't."

The vets had questions, too. One asked President Raab if she wanted to recruit more of them. Her reply was a concise statement of Hunter's policy: "Who wouldn't want people with your smarts and your experience!  We are delighted to have you join our student community, learn what we have to offer and then go into the workforce with your unique combination of skills. Our job is to make sure people know how valuable you are."

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