Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) received a $69,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Veterans' Affairs (ODVA) to support veteran resource projects for the benefit of students. Grant funding will not only make more people aware of the opportunities offered at Oregon Tech, but will update existing centers and provide a dedicated staff member to serve the needs of Oregon Tech veteran- and military-affiliated students.
Oregon Tech’s military outreach lead, retired Colonel Jeff Smith, and Iona Musgnung, associate director of Student Support & Belonging, worked with students to secure the funding. Oregon Tech Student Veteran Program (SVP) and Veterans Affairs (VA) work-study students have been instrumental in identifying areas for improvement specific to each campus. These teams have gathered student input on what should be added to the resource centers and they continue to be advocates for their peers in regard to what comes next.
The funding received from the ODVA Campus Veteran Resource Center grant will support five projects:
- Hire a director of Veteran Services.
- Create and equip a new Veteran Resource Center on the Portland-Metro campus.
- Modernize the Veteran Resource Center on the Klamath Falls campus.
- Host orientation, benefits, peer mentoring, employment and outreach events for veteran- and military-affiliated students.
- Market veteran-friendly degree-completion programs to attract veteran students.
Currently, Oregon Tech partners with Klamath Community College (KCC) and Air University (AU) to provide veteran-friendly pathways to degree completion that maximize transfer credit, optimize use of VA benefits, and minimize out-of-pocket costs. The university also formed a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) cross-town partnership between the Portland-Metro campus and University of Portland. Grant funding will allow dedicated support and recruitment for both programs and support current veterans at both campus locations through a director responsible for overseeing all projects and physical improvements to VRC’s at each campus.
Ms. Musgnung shared, “Grant money is in and we are already making enhancements to our physical spaces and have plans in the works for that to continue throughout the year. We have goals to use this funding to better incentivize and connect students to employment counseling and military affirming career fairs, benefits navigation, and peer support through the Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE) program.”
Joining the team in January 2021 as director of Veteran Services, Jerry (Jay) Headley comes to Oregon Tech from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) where he served as their director of Veteran Services, providing students with assistance in the navigation of VA benefits, and guidance supporting the successful transition to and through their educational experiences. During his time at Virginia Tech, he is proud to have achieved some notable accomplishments including: growth of the university’s Yellow Ribbon program, expansion of the Veteran’s Services office space and staff, and a new student center. He is excited to bring this same commitment to growth to Oregon Tech.
Jay is himself a veteran, having served in the U.S. Army as a Blackhawk helicopter mechanic and maintenance supervisor with deployments to Bosnia and Kosovo in the late 1990s. After six years of active duty service and having achieved the rank of sergeant, he returned to civilian life with dreams of pursuing a higher education and finding his vocational calling, which he believes he has discovered in student support. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Arts & Letters and Film from Portland State University and a Master of Natural Resources from Virginia Tech. Jay has a passion for helping veteran and military-connected students find their way.