In light of the recent announcement by the University System of Georgia (USG) regarding the expansion of the USG’s
outreach effort, “Soldiers 2 Scholars” (S2S), it is worth noting that Clayton State University was among the first USG institutions to initiate a
comprehensive program for service members.
The goal of S2S is to help those in military service make the transition to civilian life by means of a college degree. Along those lines, Clayton State, under
the general direction of the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services, and the specific direction of Associate Director of Counseling and
Psychological Services Shiraz Karaa, has been making a series of specific efforts to attract and retain military students since February 2008.
The following is a timeline of what has been accomplished towards making Clayton State a veteran-friendly campus in the past three plus years, to the
point where Military Advanced Education magazine selected Clayton State among its top Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities in its December
February 2008 Veterans Coffee Social is the first campus-sponsored networking opportunity for student veterans.
April 2008 Clayton State Student Veterans Association (SVA) becomes an official student organization.
November 2008 Veterans Information Page (VIP), an on-line resource for veterans, established.
January 2009 Focus group with student veterans: Focusing on Veterans in Higher Education.
March 2009 Submitted ACE/WalMart Veterans Grant that outlined goals and a framework for building a veteran-friendly campus.
July 2009 Established the Veterans Task Force (VTF).
November 2009 Veterans Day campus celebration featured in the Clayton Daily News.
April 2010 Student Veterans Association is awarded the Outstanding Student Organization Activity/Program of the Year Award at the Clayton State Student Leadership Awards ceremony.
August 2010 Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia selected Clayton State as “Veteran Friendly” and invited a campus representative to join its Military Outreach Coordinators Committee.
August 2010 Board of Regents awards Clayton State $20K to open a Veterans Resource Center.
September 2010 Fort Benning Educators’ Tour for of the USG seven “Veteran Friendly” institutions joined by Chairman Willis Potts.
October 2010 Military Advanced Education magazine selected Clayton State among its top Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities as featured in the magazine’s December 2010 issue.
November 2010 Clayton State hosts the Georgia Consortium training by the Center for Deployment Psychology entitled, “Service Member and Veterans on Campus: University Staff and Counseling Center Core Competency.”
February 2011 Clayton State is represented as a military-friendly USG institution at the Council of College and Military Educators Symposium (CCME), Tampa, Fla.
April 2011 An official presentation was made before the Clayton State Facilities Management Committee to create space for a Veterans Resource Center. (This is still a work-in-progress.)
Possibly the most visible manifestation to date of Clayton State’s veterans efforts has been the SVA, one of the University’ most successful student organizations.
“The collaborative efforts of the Student Veterans Association, the Veteran Task Force and Clayton State University provides unparallel assistance in its outreach to student veterans,” says SVA President Edwin Starks. “Being neighbors to Forts McPherson and Gillem creates a bilateral pathway for veteran to and from our school. The SVA places high priority on providing sponsorship to student veteran and their families in an effort to smooth the transition from military service to college life. We have taken great strides toward continuing the comradeship we are accustomed to while serving. The value of connecting with former service members of all branches of the military further enhances the overall university mission of diversity and provides a feeling to all veterans that we still stand shoulder to shoulder.”
“The manner in which student veterans services initiatives began at Clayton State is unique to Clayton State,” says Karaa. “Working with student veterans who sought services at the campus counseling center, I recognized the need for a comprehensive support program for these students whose academic, social, and psychological needs differ from those of other college students.
“Serving as the SVA advisor fueled my commitment to expanding services for student veterans. The task of communicating the veterans’ needs to the university officials who could influence policy while at the same time continuing to provide outreach and support to this unique student population felt like an overwhelming but very important and invigorating venture.”