A UH systemwide task force to work on improving services for student veterans has been formed and held its organizational meeting on Friday, November 22.
Interim President David Lassner announced his plan to appoint the new task force at a joint news conference in September with Secretary of the U.S. Veterans Administration General (retired) Eric Shinseki. Lassner said, “We owe all of our veterans a path to a high-quality degree that will help them find rewarding employment. But just as importantly, we owe it to Hawaiʻi as well. Veterans have a wealth of talent and expertise to share if we are successful in providing them with higher education experiences that enable them to obtain great jobs and contribute in our communities.”
All UH campuses already provide some level of support services for veterans. It is estimated that the university’s 10 campus system currently enrolls more than 2,400 veterans, who comprise about four percent of the student body.
Task force members were appointed from nominations and self-nominations of UH students, faculty and staff and community members from all islands. The group will be charged to provide recommendations that improve veteran access to UH and the success of student veterans by reaching out to all campuses and representing the interests and concerns of the entire UH System and veterans throughout the state.
In doing its work, the task force may engage in activities such as:
- Survey and catalog current capabilities and practices of UH campuses relative to known best practices and available programs;
- Work with UH veteran students and recent veteran graduates to understand barriers and contributors to their enrollment and success;
- Identify ongoing systemwide approaches to collecting and utilizing data to inform the extent and success of veterans’ participation at UH;
- Provide recommendations for priority actions across the UH System and campuses that will improve the educational access and success of our veteran students; and
- Identify changes in federal policy that would support increased access and success for student veterans that UH can recommend to federal officials and our Congressional Delegation.
The Task Force is also intended to help UH campuses learn from each other’s successes and help UH do more for student veterans by working together. Task Force results and recommendations will be shared at a systemwide conference on support for veterans hosted by UH Mānoa next spring.
The 15-member task force is being chaired by Chris Manaseri, dean of student services at Leeward Community College and supported by Jan Javinar, interim associate vice president for student affairs for the UH System.
The members of the UH Task Force in Support of Student Veterans are:
- Florentino Abara, coordinator, Military and Veterans Program, Kapiʻolani Community College
- Raymond Banda, student, Leeward Community College
- Tracey Betts, director, Honolulu Veterans Affairs Regional Office
- James Cavin, student, GWU Online
- Ronald Han, Director, Hawaiʻi State Office of Veteran Services
- Francisco Hernandez, vice chancellor for student affairs, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
- Jan Javinar, interim associate vice president for student affairs, University of Hawaiʻi System
- Chris Manaseri (chair), dean of student services, Leeward Community College
- Norm Strahl, director student development programs, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
- Amber Stubbs, lecturer, University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu
- Karen Tamaki, program director, University of Hawaiʻi Maui College
- Pili Williams, student, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
- Rose Woodruff, director, Learning Assistance Center, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
- Mahealani Yamashita, career and transfer specialist, Kauaʻi Community College