The University of Nebraska at Omaha was named one of the most military-friendly universities in the country by a Military Times survey.
UNO ranked ninth of 140 four-year universities for 2018. Military Times asked universities to fill out a survey on different elements of programming, staffing and student success rates among other categories, said Leah Meyer, interim director of the Office of Military and Veteran Services.
According to the Military Times, “Broadly speaking, institutions were evaluated in five categories: university culture, academic outcomes/quality, student support, academic policies and cost and financial aid.”
University culture was an especially important category. At UNO, the Student Veteran Organization has the job of building and improving the veteran community.
Kathleen Clyde, an Air Force veteran and president of the Student Veteran Organization, said her organization works hard to ease the transition from military to civilian life. The SVO helps veterans stay informed about internships and other opportunities beyond simply getting their degrees.
The UNO SVO is a chapter of Student Veterans of America, based in Washington, D.C. The national organization fights for student veterans on Capitol Hill, Clyde said.
The Forever GI Bill is a product of their efforts at the Capitol. The bill removed the 15-year time limit for veterans to use their GI Bill money and expanded educational opportunities for veterans.
“Ultimately, we’re a transition point from an active-duty mindset to the world of academia, which is a transition in itself,” Clyde said. “And then we try to empower veterans to move into the civilian workforce.”
“My goal as president here is to re-establish the camaraderie,” Clyde said. “When you leave the military, two of the main things you hear about are the loss of purpose and the loss of family.”
“They didn’t just walk away from a family, they came into another family,” Clyde said. “We all care about each other, and we’re still here for each other no matter what’s going on.”
The SVO hosts a weekly Veterans Success Group at UNO.
“They get to go to that group, they get to talk about whatever it is they want to talk about and eat pizza and joke around with each other,” Clyde said.
The SVO wants to be a place where veterans can come for support. The UNO veterans organization serves over 500 veterans and over 1,700 people who are somehow affiliated with the military.
Clyde said LinkedIn, a business-oriented social media service, wants to partner with the UNO chapter in order to provide veterans with opportunities to connect with job recruiters and CEO’s.
“You can get jobs through LinkedIn, you can find mentors through LinkedIn, all that jazz,” Clyde said.
Every April, the SVO holds an event called Tribute to the Fallen. They place a flag in the Pep Bowl for every service member killed since the 9/11 attacks. The number of flags is now around 7,000.
“I fought in this war. Many of my fellow coworkers and fellow SVO board members were participants in this war, so it hits home for a lot of us,” Clyde said.