Students in uniform stand for the National Anthem during a Veterans Day breakfast

GVSU announces new employment program for student veterans

Grand Valley President Philomena V. Mantella announced the creation of the Veterans Advance: Progressive Work-Based Learning program to ensure students who are veterans are recognized for the experience they bring.

The program is designed to acknowledge the strong transferable skills veterans have from their service that can be used to advance their civilian career while pursuing a degree at GVSU. Michigan-based food solutions company SpartanNash, a longtime supporter of veterans and military families as well as a food distributor for the U.S. Military, is GVSU’s launch partner for the initial pilot program.

The announcement of Veterans Advance came at the university’s annual Veterans Day Breakfast held November 11 on GVSU’s Allendale Campus. Mantella said Grand Valley is aware veterans often delay college to serve their country.

“Veterans can suffer unintended negative consequences, and college admission is often more difficult for veterans simply due to their distance from high school,” Mantella said. “GVSU was the first in the nation to launch the Veteran’s Promise aimed at supporting those with an intention to start college after or during service. This year, Grand Valley is addressing the negative impacts of delayed career starts due to veterans’ commitment to serve.” 

President Philomena V. Mantella gestures in thanks to veterans during a Veterans Day breakfast
President Philomena V. Mantella gestures in thanks to veterans gathered at Grand Valley's annual Veterans Day Breakfast on Nov. 11.
Military and Veterans Resource Manager Jill Hinton-Wolfe at GVSU's Veterans Day breakfast.
Jill Hinton Wolfe, military and veterans resource manager at GVSU, center, is applauded for her work with campus veterans and their families during the breakfast.
Melanie Williams talks with fellow ROTC Grand Valley students during the Veterans Day breakfast where the Veterans Advance program was announced.
Melanie Williams talks with fellow ROTC Grand Valley students during the Veterans Day breakfast where the Veterans Advance program was announced.
The Veterans Advance program was announced Nov. 11 at Grand Valley's annual Veterans Day breakfast, held at the Alumni House in Allendale.

Mantella said the Veterans Advance program will provide a competitive wage and career progression while veterans are in school, with the help of veteran-inclusive corporate partners. The partners will provide paid professional work experience and a leadership track that runs concurrent with a veteran’s degree plan.

“SpartanNash is proud to join with Grand Valley for Veterans Advance,” said SpartanNash Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Nicole Zube. “One of SpartanNash’s core behaviors is ‘We Serve,’ and we look forward to giving back to these veteran heroes. The training and lived experience veterans bring to employers is invaluable. Blending their skills with work-based learning experiences and the educational excellence provided by GVSU is a recipe for building our next generation of leaders.”

Jared Lyon, president and CEO of Washington D.C.-based Student Veterans of America, lauded the initiative as one that could serve as a model for universities as they look to serve veterans and their families.

"Every year I have the honor to see the dedication of countless colleges and universities as they expand services for the empowerment of student veterans,” Lyon said. “Grand Valley State University leads the pack when it comes to innovation and commitment. The Veterans Advance Progressive Work-Based Learning program is a shareable blueprint that has the ability to make a widespread and lasting impact for all campuses moving forward."

Marine Corps veteran Travis Snyder, president of GVSU’s Laker Vets, said the program will add to the strides Grand Valley is making to welcome military families and support their success.

“I appreciate Grand Valley’s leadership and commitment to veterans,” Snyder said. “This new Veterans Advance program continues that commitment to us. The work-based orientation of this initiative will be extremely valuable to veterans.” 

To learn more about Grand Valley’s commitment to veterans, visit the website for the Peter Secchia Military and Veterans Resource Center.


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