VITAL Webinars should be starting back up soon. We will post information about them as they become available. Watch this space.
VALOR recognizes Ally of the Year
NDSU’s Veteran Alliance Organization, known as VALOR, has presented its 2020 Ally of the Year Award to Jim Stoddard, assistant director for veterans educational training in the NDSU Student Success Programs. Stoddard was recognized on Dec. 7.
Stoddard is the veteran coordinating officer regarding VALOR efforts. He joined the NDSU staff in 2016 after serving 24 years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Union College in Schenectady, New York, and his master’s degree in national security studies from American Military University in Charles Town, West Virginia.
“Receiving this peer-nominated award means a lot to me because we have such an outstanding team of advocates for our student veterans at NDSU. I’m happy to know that the initiatives I’ve been coordinating in support of NDSU’s military students have been well received,” Stoddard said. “Our military veteran students face a lot of challenges returning to school to complete their education, or to balance college with the heavy responsibilities while serving in the National Guard. But they are extremely capable and motivated; they have a lot to contribute to NDSU and have potential for great success if we just help them make that leap from the military environment to the academic world.”
VALOR faculty liaison Carol Cwiak, associate professor of emergency management, said, "Jim is the beating heart of veteran services on the NDSU campus. He has consistently met the needs of student veterans both at an individual level and as a student cohort. I can say unequivocally that NDSU is the veteran-friendly institution it is in large part because of Jim."
VALOR’s mission is to improve the campus climate for student veterans and enhance their success. Student veterans include veterans, active-duty service members, reservists and members of the National Guard.
As a student-focused, land-grant, research university, we serve our citizens.
Stay tuned for information about upcoming VITAL webinars from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The monthly webinar series, which focuses on matters relevant to supporting student veterans, is expected to resume in September. Jim Stoddard, NDSU's Veteran Coordinating Officer, will send out information about these sessions as it becomes available.
The photo above is of Marine veteran Clay Hunt. Clay Hunt died by suicide in March 2011 at the age of 28 after struggling with PTSD. Prior to his death, Clay was an advocate for veterans struggling with PTSD and reintegration. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act was signed into law in February 2015.
The purpose of the VITAL webinar series from the US Department of Veterans Affairs is to provide college and university professionals with knowledge, best practices, and resources to help them meet the unique needs of student veterans.
This month’s VITAL webinar will focus on understanding PTSD and treatment methods. This webinar and the discussion afterwards will enhance attendees' understanding of PTSD, treatments available, and accommodations that can be made in a university setting for student veterans. All campus members who interact with student veterans are encouraged to come - in particular, VALOR allies, academic advisors, and staff and faculty who directly engage with processes or services related to tuition or fees should attend.
The webinar and discussion will be in CI & IND ENG Room 207. If you’re unable to attend the gathering in person, you should still be able to see the live presentation and hear the audio from any computer using the instructions below.
At the scheduled time for the live event, follow this link to the VA VITAL program’s presentation space: http://va-eerc-ees.adobeconnect.com/vitalseries/
Click “Guest” tab (or “Registered User” if registered with the Veterans Health Administration’s “VHA Train” system)
Enter your name and click “Enter Room”
Audio is available during the adobe connect link through your computer. If the audio lags, you can access it independently over your phone. For phone audio access use 1-800-767-1750, access code 52665#.
Continuing education credits for the webinar are accepted by several accrediting agencies (at no cost), but you must pre-register in the "VHA Train" system and complete the final evaluation activity for the course. For more information on this option, contact Jim Stoddard at 231-9706 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
VALOR hosted a Veterans Day ceremony on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. The ceremony included opening remarks from VALOR faculty representative Carol Cwiak, associate professor of emergency management, and NDSU Vice Provost Laura Oster-Aaland.
NDSU Human Resources director John Woolsey, retired Marine Corps master sergeant and VALOR advisory board member, gave a commemorative speech that honored the service of veterans.
The speakers were followed by a bagpipe rendition of “When the Battle is O’er,” performed by retired Air Force major Jim Stoddard, assistant director of Veterans Educational Training with NDSU Student Success Programs; Carol Haukebo, NDSU Budget Office analyst; Dan Aird, an alumni of NDSU; and Meri Quanbeck, mother of NDSU sophomore Jamison Quanbeck.
NDSU Army and Air Force ROTC cadets conducted the flag raising led by ROTC Cadet Sergeant Major Crysta Halgrimson along with Cadets Alex Gustafson, Olivia Nellermoe and Jacob Boguslawski from the Army ROTC, and Cadets Randy Peterson and Cole Eidsvoog of the Air Force ROTC.
Isaac Hicks, a senior instrumental music education major at NDSU, will played “Taps.”
Congratulations to Kevin Kettner, VALOR's 2019 Ally of the Year. Kevin was awarded the inaugural VALOR Ally of the Year award on April 10, 2019 at the conclusion of the VALOR Presents presentation. Kevin has a long history of serving student veterans at NDSU. To learn more about Kevin and his receipt of this award see NDSU News: https://www.ndsu.edu/news/view/detail/37211/.
Jeri Vaudrin shared how she came to work with student veterans, what she learned along the way, and what lies ahead for those seeking to improve student veteran experiences and outcomes at NDSU. Her presentation stimulated a robust Q & A segment.
Jeri Vaudrin is the Campus Veteran Outreach Development VISTA for the North Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to her current position, she worked for a decade as the Project Coordinator for Veterans Education Training (VET) at NDSU (which replaced the TRIO Veterans Upward Bound program). Since her retirement from NDSU in 2015, Jeri has continued working with student veteran issues as a VALOR Board Member.
Bryan Watters covered a number of topics relevant to serving veterans to include the NDDVA website, the services provided by State Veteran Service Officers, State Loan and Grant Program, veteran indicator for the ND license, veteran ID Card and application process, ND license plates, and some examples of other veteran appreciation programs.
Bryan was raised in Southern Minnesota and served in the USMC as an Infantryman from 1987 to 1991 to include the First Gulf War. He graduated from Moorhead State Univ in 1997 with a B.A. in Biology. Bryan went on to serve in the Minnesota Army National Guard as a Field Artillery Officer from 1991 until his retirement in 2017. In 2013, he started his veteran advocacy as the Department Service Officer for the North Dakota American Legion. Bryan joined the NDDVA in 2015 and is currently the VSO Supervisor for the NDDVA.
Calie Lindseth discussed Military Sexual Trauma (MST) an its impacts. MST impacts 8 in 10 women and 3 in 10 men serving in our US Armed Forces. 16 new North Dakota Veterans, each month, reach out to the Department of Veterans Affairs for the first time in an effort to find healing and services.
Calie is the Women’s Veteran Coordinator with the North Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs. Her position focuses on women veterans, minority veterans, LBGTQ veterans, military sexual assault survivors, among others. She has served with the ND Army National Guard for over 11 years, with two tours overseas-to Kosovo and to Kuwait. Calie holds undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Psychology and a Master’s in Public Health from NDSU. Currently, she is pursuing her Ph.D. at SDSU. Much of her academic and research interest has focused on alternative treatments for mental health, trauma intervention, and suicidality.
On February 12, 2019, President Bresciani signed the 8 Keys to Veterans' Success on behalf of NDSU.
In signing the 8 Keys, Dr. Bresciani promised to ensure that veterans receive the best possible educational experience at NDSU.
The 8 Keys
1. Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans.
2. Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.
3. Implement an early alert system to ensure all veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.
4. Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designated space for them (even if limited in size).
5. Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for veterans.
6. Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention, and degree completion.
7. Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans.
8. Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for veterans.
Nicole Veselka, BSN, RN, discussed key facts about veteran suicide to include: protective factors and risk factors that increase the likelihood of suicide attempts (including unique risk factors for Veterans), how lethal means reduction prevents suicides, and resources for veterans and the whole community.
Nicole is the Suicide Prevention Education and Outreach Specialist at the Fargo VA HCS. She has been a nurse since 2007, and has experience in long term, acute, and primary care at the VA. She is also a member of the ND State Suicide Prevention Coalition. She served in the military as an active duty Army Medic from 2000-2004 and deployed to Iraq from 2003-2004 in support of OIF I.
Jerome Billups, a Veteran Employment Specialist from Job Service North Dakota, discussed the ways in which Job Services works to meet veterans' needs. He explained how veterans can translate military experience to education and employment. Jerome is an Air Force Retiree (22 years of service) who is invested in early intervention and access to education to stabilize employment throughout a veteran's life.
Brad Aune discussed the ways in which the effects and trauma of war impact a service member's transition from the military. Through Brad's story of living with PTSD and his personal transition from the military, attendees got a better understanding of the unique challenges veterans can face once they “come home”.
In May 2019, the VALOR Advisory Board will award the first Valor Ally of the Year Award. Stay tuned for more details about the criteria for this award and the nomination submission process.
ND Cares Signing Ceremony, September 17, 2018 (From left to right: Grant Larson, Fargo ND Cares; Kelsey Handt, NDSU ND Cares (student representative); Carol Cwiak, NDSU ND Cares (VALOR representative); Jim Stoddard, NDSU ND Cares (VET Program representative), Connie Sprynczynatyk, ND Cares; President Bresciani, NDSU; Darcie Handt, ND Cares; and, Major General Alan Dohrmann, North Dakota National Guard.