Upper Iowa University (UIU) anticipates a new partnership will “PAVE” the way for an expansion of peer support for its incoming military and veteran students, and the total military family.
Chad Cook, UIU director of Military and Veteran Services, has announced that Upper Iowa is among 30 schools nationwide to be newly named to the PAVE (Peer Advisors for Veteran Education) network. Headquartered at University of Michigan Medical School, PAVE is a peer support program that connects incoming student veterans with student veterans already on campus in order to help them navigate college life, identify challenges they face, refer them to appropriate resources on or off campus, and provide additional ongoing support.
Cook noted that PAVE enhances the camaraderie veterans experience in the military and further contributes to the academic and personal success of the new students. Currently, only 42 colleges and universities have been accepted as PAVE partners.
“This is another example of the ongoing steps taken by UIU to continue expanding its staunch commitment to providing the best possible services to our military family,” explained Cook. “The transition from the military to the classroom can be challenging for veterans and current military personnel. The ability of peers to provide support from the perspective of someone who has shared similar experiences and at the same time connect new student veterans with the needed resources to succeed is a powerful tool.”
“PAVE is similar to how the military is set up in that you work as a team to accomplish a mission. Many veterans miss that group effort and support. PAVE will allow us as a university to provide that type of support to our military students. We want them know that they don’t have to go through the transition alone,” he added.
Cook, UIU director of counseling services Crystal Cole, and a yet-to-be-named student team leader will attend PAVE training in August. PAVE officials will also collaborate with Cook to recruit student veterans who have successfully transitioned from military to academia to serve as peer advisors. Tentative plans are for a peer advisor to be located at the University’s Fayette campus, four UIU centers in Iowa (Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Quad Cities, Waterloo) and its Prairie du Chien, Wis., center. The University’s military centers already have family and soldier support services on-base.
Through PAVE’s student-run initiative, the team leader provides a platform for student veterans to work directly on managing the program on their respective campus by promoting the program, recruiting and managing the peer advisors and creating an awareness of veteran issues. Meanwhile, the advisors assist the staff with orientation and providing peer support to student veterans and the total military family at their respective campus or center.
Over 200 PAVE peer advisors and 20 veteran service coordinators have been trained across the nation since being established in 2012. These staff members have assisted over 2,000 student veterans in making the transition from military service to furthering their education and life on campus.
For additional information on UIU’s PAVE program or any of its military and veteran student services, contact Cook at 563-425-5507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.