Waynesburg University recently launched the Veteran and Military Student Services and Initiatives to serve the needs of veteran and military member students and their families.
Dr. Michelle Steimer, assistant professor of counseling for the Graduate and Professional Studies Counseling Program, will serve as the director of Veteran and Military Student Services and Initiatives, and Charles Stoddard, grant program manager and training coordinator, will serve as assistant director.
“The purpose of this initiative is three-fold: to serve our veteran and military students, to serve the veteran and military populations in our area through community collaboration, and to enhance veteran and military student recruitment and services in both our undergraduate and graduate programs,” said Dr. Steimer.
Through this initiative, Dr. Steimer and Stoddard will work as liaisons for the veteran and military student population and provide resources for information related to financial, health and wellness, and community benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs, Department of Defense, and other local, state, federal or private organizations.
We want to create a lifecycle of support that matches the needs of our military and veteran students that spans from their first interest in Waynesburg University to their time as students and continues on as these same students become alumni that continue to serve their communities.”
They will also work collaboratively with existing campus services and programs to further develop, streamline and grow the University’s already established and successful veteran and military services. This will increase access, utilization and continual improvement related to service to veterans and military members.
In her role as director of Veteran and Military Student Services and Initiatives, Dr. Steimer will be responsible for the review of University policies to create and implement military-friendly changes on behalf of veterans, active-duty military personnel, reservists and dependents.
Her ability to recognize the specific needs of the military community stems from her extensive military background. Dr. Steimer has served in the United States Army and Army Reserve for more than 22 years. She has been both enlisted and an officer, and currently serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve in Pittsburgh. Her husband, Drew, also serves.
“I have loved serving my country and see this new initiative as a way to continue to serve military members, veterans and their families,” she said.
Dr. Steimer has also worked for the Department of Defense, served as president for the Pennsylvania Military and Government Counseling Association and served as an expert and consultant in military and veteran culture and mental health on both national and international levels as a counselor educator.
In his role as assistant director of Veteran and Military Student Services and Initiatives, Stoddard will assist Dr. Steimer in the review and development of policy and programming. He will also serve as a primary point of contact for Waynesburg University military and veteran students.
“I am intent to establish strong relationships with veteran and military students serving as a student organization advisor, mentor and role model as they enroll, progress, succeed and graduate,” said Stoddard. “I want to help our veteran and military students feel a deep sense of belonging to Waynesburg University.”
Between active duty and being in the Army Reserve, Stoddard has served in the Army for 18 years and worked as a combat medic for 16 years, which included serving as an infantry platoon medic during deployment in Iraq. For the last two years, he has served as a personnel officer.
In addition, Stoddard served as an Army Division Suicide Prevention Program Manager for six years, during which he was responsible for providing mental health and crisis resources for 7,000 soldiers.
“Soldiers sacrifice so much for the benefit of their communities and this country, and they deserve support as well as a welcome and safe place to work out their experiences,” Stoddard said of his passion for caring for veteran and soldier mental health needs. “I want to be one of those people reaching back to our soldiers and veterans to make it easier for them to address their needs and to thrive.”
In alignment with the University’s mission of faith, learning and service, this initiative will provide events including veteran student welcome sessions, monthly coffee groups, and on-campus and virtual service opportunities to promote a sense of connection for veteran and military students.
“There is a lot of energy and support from University leadership for this initiative and we’re excited to add to the efforts that have already been made to welcome, serve and support our veterans, military members and their families,” Stoddard said.
As the initiative becomes more established, the goal is to create both virtual and physical spaces on the University’s main campus and its Southpointe Center for personalized veteran student support and advocacy, and community initiatives.
“We want to create a lifecycle of support that matches the needs of our military and veteran students that spans from their first interest in Waynesburg University to their time as students and continues on as these same students become alumni that continue to serve their communities,” Dr. Steimer added.