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MVAA certifies first group of colleges as Michigan Veteran Connectors

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency has certified the first group of eight colleges and universities as Michigan Veteran Connectors for their role in supporting military veterans.

The MVAA’s Michigan Veteran Connector initiative identifies and cultivates community partnerships to simultaneously broaden referral capabilities for Michigan veterans and connect them to the best possible resources.
The initiative is part of the SAMHSA Governor’s Challenge, which looks at ways to reduce suicide in our service members, veterans and their families. During the admissions process, colleges, universities and trade schools can help by identifying student veterans and asking, “Is there anything you would like us to know about your service?” From there, the schools can start the referral process to resources ranging from employment and training services to education benefits for children and spouses to VA health care.

“We congratulate this first group of higher education institutions for becoming certified Michigan Veteran Connectors,” said Zaneta Adams, MVAA director and chair of the Michigan Governor’s Challenge team. “Based on our work through the Governor’s Challenge program, we know that the earlier we identify and connect our Michigan veterans to services and resources, the sooner we can lower the risk for self-harming behaviors including suicide.”

The institutions certified through the Michigan Veteran Connector program are Central Michigan University, Jackson College, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Lansing Community College, Michigan State University, Mott Community College, Southwestern Michigan College and University of Michigan-Flint.

The eight institutions are already certified through the MVAA’s Veteran-Friendly Schools (VFS) initiative. The VFS initiative recognizes academic institutions committed to supporting the needs of veterans through established criteria such as having a veteran-specific website, student veteran clubs and an on-campus veterans’ coordinator.

The Veteran Connector initiative has brought both veteran-centric and suicide-prevention training to VFS employees who are working with veteran students through the free Governor’s Challenge Portal – Psych/Armor program. The eight schools have completed at least one training along with using free MVAA toolkits within their student lounges and information centers. 

Most schools have also added the MVAA website banner to their website along with the Veteran Crisis Line. In addition, several schools are now connecting to their local VA Medical Centers to discuss having routine days/times that VA representatives can be on campus to assist with enrollment in health care or other desired services.