Stanford will open the Office for Military-Affiliated Communities (OMAC) at Tresidder Memorial Union this fall. OMAC, which will replace the Student Veterans Affairs Office (VA), will be open five days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., an increase from the current VA, which was open one day a week for two hours.
OMAC will support Stanford student veterans by serving as a liaison between the Registrar’s Office, the Financial Aid Office and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Vice Provost for Student Affairs Greg Boardman explained that the main reason for OMAC’s establishment was to simplify the process of connecting students and administrators.
According to Boardman, the VA office shared the same goal as OMAC of connecting veterans to resources, but the VA was a more decentralized and smaller operation, focused primarily on veterans. Open full-time, the OMAC office will offer broader support to the full Stanford military-affiliated community.
Connecting campus programs
Boardman, who has been involved with OMAC’s formation, explained that although the services and resources for veterans are already in place at Stanford, they are located in a number of different places. The new OMAC office will act as a springboard for students to facilitate finding the services and resources they need.
“We are looking for one central point that could then refer folks out to different locations for help,” Boardman said.
OMAC will collaborate with three different programs on campus — Career Development Studies, Continuing Studies and the Haas Center’s Military Service as Public Service program. Stanford veterans will also have the opportunity to connect with veteran alumni.
OMAC will also coordinate with Stanford 2 to 4, a summer program that helps veterans currently attending junior colleges learn about the transition to a four-year institution. The inaugural eight-week program started in June this year and accepted veterans who were between their first and second years at junior colleges.
Jess Matthews, associate dean and director of Summer Programs, explained that although the competitive program included only 11 students this summer, a class of 20 students is expected for future years.
This summer, the three-year pilot program accepted primarily students from California, but veterans from across the country are encouraged to apply, said Matthews.
Who can use the resources
OMAC will serve veterans, dependents and anyone connected to the military, including international students who served in armies other than the U.S. military.
OMAC’s services will also be available to members of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), a program designed to train college students to become military officers after they graduate.
For incoming students with a military affiliation, an open house will be held in September during new student orientation (NSO) to allow them to immediately connect with OMAC. The office is also in the process of setting up a website.
“The students will not be on their own,” Boardman said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to have a better transition from army to Stanford, especially for issues related specifically to military affiliates.”
According to Boardman, there are about 100 undergraduate veterans at Stanford, and the University has been receiving an increasing amount of veteran applicants each year.
Stanford undergraduate and Afghanistan veteran Saamon Legoski ’16 believes that the OMAC will help create a “vibrant veteran community” at Stanford. Legoski himself is currently working as a behavioral health specialist with the U.S. Army.
“I think this new office will get rid of a lot of the hurdles [that veterans face], and now that they have a full time person to be able to talk to, that is incredibly helpful,” Legoski said.
The OMAC office will feature a full time OMAC Specialist to assist the military-affiliated community. The position was posted earlier this month, and the specialist will be hired later this summer, explained Lori Gager, associate director of the Student Services Center. Gager will also oversee OMAC once it opens.
Boardman spoke about OMAC’s potential for growth and explained that the University is looking for someone who has served in the military to bring expertise and past experiences to the office.
“OMAC shows that Stanford isn’t just veteran friendly — it’s veteran ready,” Legoski said.
Contact Jacqueline Carr at jacquelineecarr ‘at’ gmail ‘dot’ com.