You can expect to see more military blues and greens on the Northern Arizona University campus in the near future as it continues to step up its level of service to those who serve their country.

NAU’s efforts earned the university a place among the nation’s “Military Friendly Schools” list issued this week by GI Jobs, a leading publication for military personnel transitioning into civilian life. The full list is available online.

In the last year, NAU’s Military and Veteran Center has expanded its offerings to military personnel with a college transition course for veterans. Because the first year poses the greatest challenge for most veteran students, the class teaches time management and organizational skills, offers resources for mental health support and provides interaction with veterans affairs staff.

Brandon Lewis finished six years of service with the U.S. Air Force on Aug. 22 and reported a week later for his new assignment as an undergraduate student at NAU.

In his second week of the transition course for veterans, Lewis has gotten help with his educational benefits, applied for in-state residency and found a place to go when he needs help. He says that the first six months to a year can be stressful. Unlike the majority of his classmates who came to NAU straight from high school and are
accustomed to an education environment, the transition for Lewis and other
veterans can feel like treading water.

“It’s this big ocean where everyone is doing their own thing and you feel like you need a checklist,” Lewis says. “You need somebody to show you what to do. That’s what the center is for.”

The needs of the average veteran student vary greatly from the average college student, says retired Army Lt. Col. Andrew Griffin, director of Military and Veteran Affairs at NAU.

“The average veteran student is 29 years old, completed high school a decade ago, lives off-campus and has a family,” Griffin says. “The Military and Veteran Center understands that divergence from the greater student population and helps veterans make the transition from service to student.”

The center provides assistance to active duty military, the National Guard, reserve forces, veterans and their families throughout the admission, enrollment and retention processes as well as career service referrals to get veterans back into the workforce after they graduate.

GI Jobs conducted university and student surveys to compile the 2012 list of colleges, universities and trade schools. The institutions were selected based on active recruitment of students with military experience, service and support programs for the military-affiliated student, scholarships and discounts, and employment of full-time staff members who assist active duty military personnel and veterans.

The survey and research was conducted at more than 8,000 schools nationwide, of which 1,518 were selected.