MADISON, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin System, University of Wisconsin-Extension, and the Wisconsin Technical College System have launched a new Veterans Wisconsin Education Portal to help veterans make the transition from military service to college life. The site (www.veterans.wisconsin.edu) guides Wisconsin veterans toward finding the right fit among Wisconsin’s public colleges and universities.
With a Wisconsin GI Bill that offers generous education benefits, veterans are increasingly looking to complete their education. But for some veterans, knowing where to start can be a challenge. The new portal helps by providing a single point of entry to the resources, services, and benefits available at all of the UW System campuses and the Wisconsin Technical Colleges. In addition, veterans can call a dedicated, toll-free UW phone line (1-877-893-1640) and speak directly with an advisor.
The new Veterans Wisconsin Education Portal also helps veteran service providers such as county veterans officers, mental health agencies and clinics, by providing them with quick access to the education resources they need to serve Wisconsin veterans. The content and design of the site has been developed by the UW System and UW-Extension in cooperation with the WTC System, the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Administration agencies, county veterans service officers, and student veterans. The UW System President’s Office funded the effort with $100,000 from Growth Agenda for Wisconsin funds.
“Our public universities and colleges must make an extra effort to serve our returning veterans. We owe it to them, in honor of the sacrifices they’ve made for our country. With a college degree in hand, they can successfully transition to civilian careers, contribute to Wisconsin’s economic renewal, and enjoy a high quality of life. The first step is opening the door and creating a friendly, welcoming space where veterans can explore all their options,” said Kevin P. Reilly, President of the UW System.
“While veterans share many experiences and attributes, they have a diverse set of educational needs, support systems, and individual ambitions. The new Veterans Education portal is just one of the ways that Wisconsin’s public colleges and universities help returning veterans find the right educational program to fulfill their career goals. Access to advising specialists at any of the 16 technical colleges and the UW-System will give veterans a jumpstart to their future. Helping veterans move forward will ensure Wisconsin moves forward,” said Dan Clancy, President of the WTC System.
The Veterans Wisconsin Education Portal is part of national efforts to make higher education more veteran-friendly. The Federal post-9/11 GI Bill went into effect August 2009 with expanded education benefits. Wisconsin’s GI Bill (effective July 2005) offers even greater benefits, with 100% tuition remission at all public universities and colleges in the state for eligible veterans, their spouses, and children.
Veteran enrollments across the UW System are up nearly 80 percent from 2005 levels, with a total enrollment of 4,523 student veterans in fall 2009. Nearly 3,400 UW student veterans are benefiting from the Wisconsin GI Bill. Veteran enrollments in the Wisconsin Technical College System are up over 300 percent since the beginning of the WI GI Bill program in 2005. Last year, 3,431 technical college student veterans received education benefits under state and federal programs.
Air Force reservist Joe Ahlers, a UW-Madison law student, served on the committee to design the new portal. “The hardest step is the first step, and a lot of veterans don’t know how to take that first step,” Ahlers said. “Before this portal existed, we had to look at 10 different pamphlets and make dozens of calls to find the right resource. Now, vets can take advantage of all the information in one place.”
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