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Loyola offers a community for veterans

Photo+credit%3A+Erin+Snodgrass
Photo credit: Erin Snodgrass

Photo credit: Erin Snodgrass

Photo credit: Erin Snodgrass

Lacinea Mcbride

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Among the accolades Loyola received in U.S. News and World Report’s “2018 Best Colleges,” one of those was being a top 10 school for veterans.

But what is it about Loyola and the veterans at the university that made for such recognition?

This year’s Student Veteran’s Association President Joseph Hyde attributes Loyola’s ranking to it being one of the few private universities in the nation to supply full benefits for veteran education. Through the “Yellow Ribbon Program,” a post-9/11 GI bill, which offers benefits to help service members cover costs associated with education, Loyola matches whatever the Department of Veterans Affairs pays for their schooling.

Hyde said The Veteran’s Association exists to build an informal network and community among veterans on campus, and to represent veterans’ concerns and interests to Loyola’s administration, and the community at large.

“We are mostly focused on keeping vets informed of who the other vets are on campus for any questions and answers on academic issues or otherwise,” Hyde said.

Founded by Marine Corps veteran and Loyola alumnus J.D. Silva in the spring of 2015, Loyola’s Student Veterans Association hosts two to three events a year; one meet and greet, one mixer or tailgate and one volunteer event. Kathy Gros, director of Student Records and Registration Services, is responsible for submitting the veterans’ paperwork each semester so they receive their VA benefits.

Loyola’s Student Veteran’s Association serves just over 100 people, half of those being children or spouses of veterans using post-9/11 benefits, Gros said.

“Any active duty or veteran status qualifies. No ROTC. There are approximately a dozen active members and passively several dozens who reach out when they have questions or concerns,” Hyde said.

Another association member is Osama Ayyad, a 29-year-old Palestinian-American Muslim, a first-generation American and the first in his family to join the military. He spent five years in the army as a rocket artilleryman and public affairs specialist. Currently, he studies mass communication and political science, while working two jobs — one at Loyola’s equipment room and one at WWL-TV.

“The Veteran’s Association is what I like to call the ‘Island of Misfit Toys’, and that’s where I belong,” Ayyad said in an email interview.

His experience as a service member changed him, Ayyad said, and he is grateful for the VA on campus.

For Ayyad, the Loyola Veteran’s Association is a safe place where diversity of opinion is welcomed and he wants students to know how much veterans have to offer in the classroom and elsewhere.

“My work ethic; my language; my expressions; my mannerisms; my mindset. It’s all different. That doesn’t make all us vets the same; it just makes us different from the rest,” he said.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Loyola offers a community for veterans”

  1. Maurice Huff on October 3rd, 2017 9:42 am

    Great article Laci!

    [Reply]

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Loyola offers a community for veterans