The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A legacy of support: A&M earns national award for veterans services

‘They were there for me every step of the way’
Photo by Chris Swann
The William Pearson Tolley Champion for Veterans in HIgher Education award sits on Associate Director of Veteran & Military Services Monteigne Long’s shelf in her office on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024 at the Veteran Resource and Support Center. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

During her sophomore year at Texas A&M, Class of 2021 graduate Lyssa Losa enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves, later deploying to Iraq for nine months and completing several other orders. While on deployment, Losa would have to step away from taking classes. Despite an already stressful situation,  Losa said the Office of Veteran and Military Services made it easy every step of the way.

“The [Veteran Resource & Support Center] was integral in my ability to come back to school,” Losa said. “Before I left, I brought them my orders, and they made sure that everything was taken care of so that way when I came back, I didn’t have to go through the whole process again because it would have been a whole barrier to prevent me from coming back. They were there for me every step of the way.”

I used just about everything at some point … There are lots of community-building programs. They really bring the veteran community together, so even if you don’t necessarily fit in with the traditional students, you know you have a home here.”

— Lyssa Losa, current student

With over 4,200 current veterans and over 7,500 dependent family members needing resources across 11 A&M system campuses, the Office of Veteran and Military Services stays busy with only two full-time staff members. However, this has not stopped the office from earning the prestigious national award for its dedication to serving students like Losa.

In January, the A&M system was awarded The William Pearson Tolley Champion for Veterans in Higher Education Award. Presented by the Student Veterans of America at its 2024 national conference, the award recognized A&M’s ongoing commitment to supporting student veterans and their families across Texas. 

Associate Director of the University System Office of Veteran & Military Services Monteigne Long said the Tolley Champion award was an honor to receive on behalf of A&M.

“It was a huge honor to receive this from the Student Veterans of America, just that they recognize the work that we are doing for student veterans and military-connected students, not just on the main campus but across the A&M system,” Long said.

In a Jan 18. press release from the A&M system, the Student Veterans of America said A&M’s staff created a fostering environment for military-affiliated students across the 11 campuses.

“[A&M’s Office of Veteran and Military Services] is fully staffed and operates at the system level, exemplifying a strong commitment to the success of student veterans,” the Student Veterans of America said in the statement.

Chancellor John Sharp also commended the Office of Veteran and Military Services on its exemplary work over the past 11 years and the A&M system for receiving the prestigious award.

“Texas A&M and the ten regional universities in the Texas A&M System are committed to serving veterans because it’s the right thing to do,” Chancellor Sharp said in the press release. 

The Office of Veteran and Military Services offers a number of opportunities and resources to student veterans and military-affiliated students across Texas.

“We have done things like partnering with a non-profit in the state called Meals for Vets,” Long said. “They offer a free meal plan to eligible student veterans. We implemented that here on the main campus and then exported that program across the A&M System, so now almost all of our regional campuses are partners with Meals for Vets.”

Along with partnering with several non-profit organizations, Long said the office works to provide student veterans with access to career readiness resources and opportunities to engage with industry partners, including Fortune 500 companies. 

“There were mentoring programs that paired you with someone who was in a background where you wanted to be eventually,” Losa said, reflecting on her use of these programs. “There were career services programs to meet with employers who wanted to recruit veterans.”

Long said the goal of the Office of Veteran and Military Services was to create best practices for veterans offices — not just in the A&M system — but all over Texas.

“If the A&M system can be a leader in supporting these students, then it puts us on the national scale to be recognized for the work we are doing,” Long said. “So that one day we can take the programs and the work we do and export it not only across the state, but across the nation.”

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About the Contributor
Mia Putnam
Mia Putnam, News Writer
Mia Putnam is a junior (a-a-a-whoop!) public health major and masters epidemiology student. She has written for the Batt for over a year now and enjoys writing stories over politics, current student interests, and environmental issues.
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