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Press Release for Monday, January 25, 2010

UNF Receives BrAIve Funds to Support Campus Military Veteran Programs

Joanna Norris, Assistant Director

Department of Media Relations and Events

(904) 620-2102

The University of North Florida received a gift from the Florida Braive Fund at The Community Foundation in Jacksonville for UNF’s Yesterday’s Warriors, Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Leaders project, a set of programs and services that remove unique barriers to success facing student veterans and their families.


The nearly $218,000 gift will allow UNF, in partnership with the city of Jacksonville’s Military Affairs, Veterans and Disability Services, the Jacksonville Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, Naval Hospital Jacksonville and The Wounded Warrior Project, to collaborate in delivering a personal approach to veteran support, which will help ensure the successful integration of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans into campus life and facilitate academic success, graduation and eventual employment.


“The military community is an important part of North Florida and we are honored to have the opportunity to provide this level of support,” said Kathleen Shaw, program director with the Florida Braive Fund at The Community Foundation in Jacksonville. “UNF has demonstrated a deep commitment to building a model program and an understanding and sensitivity to the unique needs of these service men and women.”


UNF was recognized in the fall as a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs and Military Advanced Education magazines, which assists military and veteran students in determining which schools offer them the most benefits. An estimated 240,000 Florida service members have deployed since 9/11 and became eligible to attend college using the new GI bill in August 2009. Approximately 650 active duty military and veteran students are presently enrolled at the University.


UNF is taking the lead role within the Florida State University System and is in the process of applying research and best practices to develop a service and support model, without replicating existing support services on campus that seeks to ensure the successful college transition of our military and veteran student population throughout the state. 


In early 2009, UNF, together with colleges, universities and communities across the nation, began preparations for the many unique challenges presented by the returning veterans from recent Afghanistan and Iraq deployments. The University created a Veterans Task Force, which developed a project dubbed Yesterday’s Warriors, Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Leaders.


“I am very excited to be a part of this initiative because it not only honors the service of our military and veteran students, but it provides a comprehensive support model that seeks to ensure their successful integration to campus life, academic success, retention and graduation,” said Cynthia Alderson, director of UNF’s Military and Veteran Programs and Services. “Without the support of the Florida Braive Fund at The Community Foundation in Jacksonville, it would not be possible this year.”


One of the project’s major goals is to provide a supportive environment for veterans to achieve academic and life success. A veteran’s transition from the military to college produces a unique set of challenges and stresses, especially if the veteran has seen combat. Many veterans will return from an extended period of exposure to severe emotional or mental trauma. When they return to school, some may experience difficulty and frustration adjusting to the stresses and demands of college life.


The Yesterday’s Warriors, Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Leaders project has three areas of focus, including the establishment of the Military and Veterans Resource Center; the expansion of service capacity for the Counseling and Disability Centers on campus; and the development of a military counseling curriculum within the Mental Health Counseling program on campus. Additionally, the project will establish transformational learning opportunities that engage program interns in providing supervised counseling services to family members of active duty military and veteran students.


The Military and Veteran Resource Center will assist veteran students with the often overwhelming admission, enrollment and financial aid processes. Once classes begin, the center will assist veterans with accessing college services wherever they reside—fully integrating all facets of student services, academic advising, tutoring, counseling, disability accommodations, veteran programming, benefits information and assistance (financial and medical) as well as facilitating referral to state and federal resources and services. In addition, the center will provide opportunities for peer to peer support, mentoring and social networking.


The Counseling Center will offer individual and group counseling and will facilitate relevant educational workshops, and support groups, while the Disability Resource Center will provide students with physical and academic needs assessments as well as assist them in obtaining the proper accommodations.

The Brooks College of Health will develop an elective military counseling course, and engage mental health counseling program interns (supervised by licensed University counselors) in providing counseling services to family members of active duty military and veteran students. This course/clinical instruction will help to expand and sustain counseling services for Northeast Florida military service members in the community for many years to come.


The Community Foundation in Jacksonville works to stimulate philanthropy in order to build a better community. The oldest community foundation in Florida, it has 367 funds with assets of $140 million. The Florida BrAIve Fund was established at The Community Foundation in Jacksonville, and two other Florida-based community foundations, in 2008 with funds from the Iraq-Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund of the Los Angeles-based California Community Foundation. IADIF was created in response to a multitude of unmet needs arising among military service men and women and their families as a direct result of their deployment.