Friday Focus: Your Department of Military and Veteran Services

Tom Hough, UAF Military and Veteran Services director
Tom Hough, UAF Military and Veteran Services director

May 31, 2024

— By Tom Hough, UAF Military and Veteran Services director

Last week in Chancellor White’s Memorial Day message the Chancellor mentioned “At the University of Alaska Fairbanks, we are proud to be a veteran-serving institution. Almost 20% of our student body are veterans, active-duty members, or their dependents.” Here in the UAF Department of Military and Veteran Services, we have the great privilege of serving our military-affiliated UAF students. Today I would like to tell you a little more about how we in the UAF Department of Military and Veteran Services work to support our students and engage with our military community here in Alaska and throughout the United States. 

Our Veterans: Those military members who have completed their service obligation with honor earn educational benefits through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Those veterans who were disabled during their service may receive additional benefits for their immediate family members. The bureaucracy to access those benefits however can be intimidating. For many of our 425+ Veteran students, this additional paperwork is due before you start your educational journey at UAF, and at the same time you are transitioning from the service, finding a place to live, and potentially looking for a job! Our mission here at DMVS is to help each of our Veteran Students navigate this process as quickly and painlessly as possible. When new UAF Veteran Students walk in our door or call us on the phone we love to tell them “It's two pieces of paper and we can help you complete both today in less than 15 minutes.” 

Our Active Duty: The UAF Department of Military and Veteran Services has offices at both the Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base Education Centers. Those offices support our active-duty U. S. Air Force and U.S. Army service members seeking to enroll in UAF through the tuition assistance program. We also have a UAF military-focused recruiter established through a partnership with the UAF Department of Admissions. This new partnership and our great team at our local military bases enrolled 133 active-duty service members in classes this past semester; an 8% growth compared to previous years. 

Military Community Outreach: In the past year UAF DMVS established three new partnerships with our local military community and has numerous new initiatives in development. At Fort Wainwright, the UAF Community and Technical College at the request of 1st Brigade, 11th Airborne Division began teaching the basic Emergency Medical Technician course. To date, over 120 Soldiers have completed the course, and in the next year 1st Brigade and the CTC will begin teaching the advanced EMT course for Soldiers as well. The UAF Vice Chancellor for Research Office established an Environmental Community Partnership with the U.S. Army Garrison Alaska. This agreement to date has resulted in 11 new UAF employees that partner with the U.S. Army in natural resource management, cultural resource management, air quality, water quality, environmental compliance, and GIS mapping of the 1.6 million acres of U.S. Army land in Alaska. 

On the horizon in the next year are a new partnership providing early childhood education at the military child development centers, collaborative training between the UAF and Fort Wainwright fire departments, and continued growth in our Environmental Community Partnership. 

Your UAF Department of Military and Veteran Services is located on the ground floor of the Rasmuson Library in room 401. If you know someone from our military community looking to connect with UAF, please bring them our way. We would love to meet them and YOU!

Friday Focus is a column written by a different member of UAF's leadership team every week. On occasion, a guest writer is invited to contribute a column.