Honoring Our Military-Connected Students
Minneapolis College’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon (BTYR) steering committee was proud to hold its 8th annual Veteran’s Day Recognition event on Wednesday, November 10, 2021. This year’s theme, Honoring the Journey of Service: Past, Present and Future, meant to serve as a testament to the generations of military service members who have made and will continue to make an impact on the Minneapolis College community and our nation as a whole.
“To me, our theme this year obviously makes me think of all who have served before me, as we often do on Veterans Day, but it also helps me focus on all of the men and women serving our country today, right now, plus all of those who will commit themselves to doing so in the years ahead,” said Brian Huilman, Army National Guard Veteran, faculty member and BTYR committee member at Minneapolis College, and MC of the event.
Event activities included the annual flag-raising ceremony, wherein the weathered flag was taken down and replaced with a new one, a message from Minneapolis College President Sharon Pierce, the singing of the National Anthem and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by the Minneapolis College Choir, and the unveiling of the new yellow ribbon displayed on the Yellow Ribbon Oak tree in the campus courtyard. The tree was planted in 2014 in honor of past, present and future Minneapolis College Veterans, tying in perfectly to this year’s Veteran’s Day Recognition event theme. The activities were followed by a small reception with snacks and refreshments.
“Minneapolis College is proud of our legacy of Veterans,” said President Pierce, in her remarks. “Students, faculty and staff who continue to serve our nation in many ways, we honor your journey of service,” she continued.
It is important to acknowledge that not all of those individuals who serve in the military or are eligible to receive benefits are considered Veterans. “The term ‘veteran’ is a technical and legal term, which means a military member who has served on active-duty for more than 180 consecutive days, not including initial training,” said Alan Ramos, United States Army Veteran, Veterans Coordinator and BTYR co-chair at Minneapolis College.
Minneapolis College strives to support all military-connected individuals, which also includes those who are currently serving and the family members (i.e., spouses and minor/college-aged dependents) of Veterans. “We are at about 211 military-connected students [at Minneapolis College] that we are tracking and serving,” said Ramos. “Our youngest are 16-year-old sons and daughters of Veterans enrolled in our Postsecondary Enrollment Options Program while our oldest Veteran is over 70 years old.”
There are multiple ways that Minneapolis College works to provide its military-connected population with support. From offering priority registration options and help navigating benefits, to offering a free, two-credit First Year Students in Transition (FYST) course sponsored by the Minneapolis College Foundation meant to prepare military-connected students for their college journey, there is an emphasis placed on making sure students have the resources that they need to succeed the moment they become a part of the Minneapolis College community.
This work is in-part steered by the BTYR committee, whose mission is to, “continuously [improve] understanding and support for student Veterans in higher education and [promote] awareness of the needs of military service members, Veterans and their families before, during and after deployment and transition from military service.”
Minneapolis College became an officially recognized BTYR company in 2015, joining a list of over 300 counties, cities and businesses. BTYR is a statewide initiative with the purpose of recognizing communities that demonstrate a commitment to U.S. Military Service members and their families by connecting them to community support, training, services and resources.
The Veteran’s Welcome Center is one of these important resources on campus where military-connected students can find support and build impactful connections. Currently located in H.2300, the space has housed a variety of resources over the years including an active Student Veterans of American / Military-Connected Club that would run meetings out of the space, computers and other technology, academic support, employer and recruiter visits, complimentary hot coffee and more. While the Veterans Welcome Center will be moving in the near future to a more accessible location, it is still currently open to students on an as-needed basis.
“It’s difficult for many Veterans to transition from military service to civilian life and that includes attending college or university,” said Ramos. “A physical space affords them familiarity and camaraderie with other student Veterans. They appreciate being able to just relax and maybe enjoy their lunch, have a quiet place to study, or have other students really relate to them when they share an experience from their time serving […] first and foremost, I want our military-connected students to know that we have their backs,” he continued.
For more information about our military-connected student services, or to get involved in the BTYR committee, contact Alan Ramos.
Support our military-connected enrollment and retention today by donating to our Yellow Ribbon Scholarship Fund.