The red-white-and blue honor cords that graduating student veterans will wear on their gowns.
About 150 University of South Florida graduates this May will wear a red-white-and-blue cord on their gowns as they pick up their diplomas. The cord signifies their service as a military veteran.
The graduates are transitioning into a civilian world where Post 9/11 veterans have a higher unemployment rate than the national average. And some veterans feel their military service is counted against them when they apply for jobs.
“They were telling me nobody wants to hire us and that’s really not true,” said Kelly Myers, a Chase 1st vice president and district manager. He meets occasionally with student veterans at the USF Office of Veteran Services. “I know as a company Chase is very interested in veterans for a lot of different reasons.”
Myers said as employees veterans bring a strong work ethic and an ability to work in teams.
“Several of the vets had taken the fact that they were in the military off their resume and they said it really hasn’t served us well,” Myers said. “I said for me I would put it right back on there. It’s probably the strongest recommendation to catch my eye that you are a veteran. So, you’re one of the first people I want to interview.”
Air Force veteran and graduating senior “Fit” Mangasha (left) shakes hands with Larry Braue, director of the USF Office of Veteran Services.
Air Force veteran and USF graduating senior Fitawrari Mangasha is optimistic about his field in information technology.
“I have a couple of prospects,” Mangasha said. “Things are looking very positive on the job prospects for me.”
Aisha McCloud Hepburn, USF graduating senior and 9-year Army veteran, said she returned to finish her communications degree because of the help she was offered through the USF Office of Veteran Services.
“I really didn’t feel a part of USF until I went to the Veterans Services with Dr. (Larry)Braue,” Hepburn said. “That’s when I realized how important it was for veterans to get an education. And the classes that he gives for veterans here is really a big help.”
A veteran salutes during the national anthem at the USF baseball game where graduating student veterans celebrated their success.
Larry Braue, a retired Army colonel with a PhD, has overseen USF’s Veteran Services for three years.
“This has been a good year in that we’re getting a lot of people interested in mentoring our veterans, working with them, hiring them,” Braue said. “And I see nothing but good things happening this next year as a result of the changes that we’ve had.”
The office has to started an awareness campaign to educate USF faculty, staff and employees about the veterans experience transitioning back into school. And there’s a mentoring program that pairs student veterans with leaders within the community.
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