Helping Service Members Transition
By Hattie Bernstein
If you’re a military service member making the transition to civilian life, you don’t have to go it alone.
Thanks to a partnership between SNHU and the United Service Organizations (USO), plenty of people — college advisors, career counselors, financial aid experts and others — have your back.
The three-year partnership between the two nonprofits, launched in June, is providing support and resources at USO centers on or near military bases across the country as part of the USO Transition 360 Alliance program, which addresses every aspect of a service member’s life, both personal and professional, as they transition from the military to re-enter into civilian life.
“We’re thrilled and honored to have established such a strong partnership with SNHU. The USO partners with best-in-class corporations and organizations to help us support our mission and extend our reach in our support of the military and their families,” says Chad Hartman, vice president of development for the USO. “SNHU is the first education partner within our military transition programming, and we are grateful for their unwavering commitment.”
The USO is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Often associated with celebrity appearances and concerts, it was founded to provide morale-boosting programs, services and entertainment to service members and their families. But as the nature of our nation’s military — and, consequently, military service — has changed, so has the USO’s focus.
“It’s not your grandfather’s USO,” says Gary Soldato, associate vice president for Military Initiatives at SNHU and a retired Army lieutenant colonel. “Those invaluable services are still there with the USO, but now they’re helping service members after war, assisting with reintegration and a career path. It allows us to make a greater impact across the country to address a very important need for the transitioning service members.”
SNHU’s military-experienced subject-matter experts will provide universal education counseling as part of the Transition 360 Alliance, with monthly site visits at designated USO centers.
Every service member who meets with a higher education expert also learns about personal and family services available to help with the return to civilian life. In addition, the USO is offering internships and a speaker series to benefit SNHU students.
Last July, as part of its Operation: Back of the Net initiative with the USO and Major League Soccer, SNHU committed to donating $2,000 for every goal scored by U.S.-based MLS clubs and $1 for every Twitter retweet about the goals to the USO Transition 360 Alliance. After 47 goals and 3,800 retweets, the university rounded up its donation to $100,000.
“The scale of the partnership is probably the largest and the only one of its kind,” says Soldato. “For the last 75 years, the USO has had a strong reputation. Their brand, their place in the military support community has been without peer as the only charitable organization with the service member from basic training through transitioning back to civilian life. SNHU shares that same vision. From enrollment to graduation and beyond, we are with you every step of the way.”