MISSOULA – The University of Montana announces the new Military and Veteran Services Office to better recruit and serve Montana veterans and military members.
Patrick Beckwith will lead the office to enhance services and expand outreach, which will work with veterans, active duty, National Guard, Reserve and family members to turn their education benefits into degrees that lead to lives and careers of impact.
“UM is fiercely committed to tearing down the barriers that keep veterans and active duty military members from using their hard-earned education benefits,” said Seth Bodnar, UM president and a major in the Montana Army National Guard. “This new office will put the needs of our military-affiliated students first so that they can continue their education right here at UM.”
“UM’s Military and Veteran Services Office is devoted to improving support systems and growing our military-affiliated community,” said Beckwith, the new director. “At UM, we understand what it means to serve, and we recognize the importance of a seamless and welcoming transition for military-affiliated students.”
Prior to taking over the new office, Beckwith graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., served a decade as an active duty Army officer and is currently serving in the Montana Army National Guard.
The new UM Military and Veteran Services Office will focus on four key areas of emphasis:
- Conduct outreach and recruit eligible students to increase enrollment among veterans, active duty military and families.
- Work with eligible students to certify and process VA benefits.
- Collaborate with UM academic departments to support transfer credits and design academic programs for students that meet the most pressing needs facing Montana.
- Create a transition program for incoming military-affiliated students and ensure their success at UM.
To improve proactive outreach to military-affiliated students across Montana and the country, the UM Military and Veteran Services Office will report to UM’s Division of Enrollment Management.
“There are more veterans per capita in Montana than almost any other state in the nation,” said Mary Kreta, UM associate vice president for enrollment. “It is not only a priority for this university, but it is a responsibility to our state to work harder to ensure more veterans, military members and families use their education benefits to access an education.”
Among the first actions taken this month was to waive the application fee for veteran students. Over the coming months, Beckwith will lead proactive efforts to make it easier for military-affiliated students to continue their education and workforce training at UM.
The UM Military and Veteran Services Office will incorporate the existing VETS Office, which serves as a liaison between students, UM and the VA.
There are currently 250 veterans enrolled in UM, in addition to 129 family members and dependents of veterans or service members and 19 active National Guardsmen and women and Reservists.
To support military-affiliated students at UM, visit https://www.umt.edu/veterans/give.php to make a gift online. UM supporters who prefer to make a gift by phone, please call 800-443-2593 or mail a financial gift to the University of Montana Foundation, noting the Military and Veteran Services Office, at P.O. Box 7159, Missoula, MT 59807-7159.