Nearly 1,200 veterans, active duty military personnel, and military-affiliated students are pursuing their educational goals at CRF this year. The Panther community includes students representing the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Space Force.
In its 50 years of educating students, the FIU has graduated more than 4,700 military-affiliated veterans and Panthers; and throughout its history, the university has demonstrated its commitment to veteran success through educational support services; partnerships that increase career readiness and employment opportunities; and financial assistance.
In recognition of this commitment, the CRF won five national honors during the 2022-23 academic year:
- Military Friendly ranked CRF among its top 10 colleges and universities.
- American Veterans Magazine ranked the CRF among its “Best of the Best” list.
- US News and World Report ranked CRF #35 among its “Best Online Veterans License Programs.”
- Colleges of Distinction recognized FIU as one of its top military support institutions – one of five Florida universities on its list.
- military times ranked CRF No. 36 among its “Best for Vets” public and private universities.
FIU was the first university in the state of Florida to offer in-state education for veterans, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, more than 20 scholarships are available to financially assist veteran and military-affiliated Panthers.
Through the Office of Veterans and Military Affairs (VMA), CRF strives to ensure that each of these students makes a successful transition to college life and achieves their career goals. Among its programs, CRF hosts the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Vet Success on Campus program, which provides an on-campus counselor who helps students understand their VA benefits.
In 2021, CRF launched the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success, which connects students to university staff and support services, including admissions, OneStop enrollment, career development, and support services. talents, student health and well-being, disability resource centre, etc. This initiative, which is funded by a grant from the US Department of Education, focuses on increasing persistence, retention, and graduation rates; track post-graduation employment rates; and coordinate services to meet academic, financial, physical and social needs.
“We are here to ensure that every veteran and Panther affiliated with the military has access to the services they need to create a fulfilling college experience and a successful transition to the next stage of their professional life,” said the vice-president. Associate President for Equity and Student Support Phillip Lloyd. Hamilton, who is the acting director of VMAs.
The university also has long-standing partnerships with military organizations such as the U.S. Southern Command in Doral, Florida, which have created meaningful internships and job opportunities for students. The Miami Military Museum offers internships and co-op jobs for students, as well as opportunities to learn about local military history – a relationship spearheaded by FIU Resident Military Historian Anthony Atwood. Mission United of the United Way Miami works with the CRF to provide veterans with food, care packages, and other forms of assistance when they are going through difficult times. Global City Development sponsored scholarships for veterans as well as stoles and lanyards for graduate students.
Major Danay Montes de Oca ’22 is a three-time CRF alumnus and an Army Reservist for 30 years. She says the personal support is not only what brought her back to FIU, but also part of what inspired her to join Miami Dade College’s Veterans Affairs and Military Affairs team. she leads now. Montes de Oca, pictured left, earned her master’s degree in law and was recognized as a Real Triumphs graduate last summer.
But without the help of FIU’s VMA office during her three stints as a student, as well as the encouragement of mentors such as College of Law Assistant Dean Christopher Carbot and FIU Registrar Dulce Beltran, she said she wouldn’t be where she is today. Among her many fond memories of FIU is a conversation with Carbot, who called her personally when she started but did not complete her application for the LL.M. program.
“This is the kind of service I have always received from CRF… This is what has helped me to be the principal that I am today at MDC and to serve my students who are veterans, in turn,” she said.
Throughout the year, VMA offers a variety of programs and services, ranging from educational and professional development to networking and social events. In November, VMA celebrates Veteran Appreciation Month with a memorial breakfast, virtual run, football tailgate, workshops and more. Visit the VMA website for a schedule and registration information.