Military and Veteran Student Support at Syracuse Evolves

Syracuse championed the G.I. Bill in 1944, becoming a leader in education for veterans. More recently, in May 2014, Syracuse University Chancellor and President Kent Syverud announced the formation of a new leadership position to oversee the development and expansion of programming for veterans and the military. J. Michael Haynie, now serving as vice chancellor for Veterans and Military Affairs, oversees the newly formed Office of Veteran & Military Affairs (OVMA) led by Executive Director Ron Novak.

OVMA serves as Syracuse University’s single point of entry for all veteran- and military-related programs and initiatives. It collaborates and coordinates with all stakeholders to best serve veterans, military-connected students, and military family members who are students or employees at Syracuse University.

We spoke with Jennifer Pluta, assistant director for Veteran and Military Family Career Services, from the Office of Veteran & Military Affairs and Career Services, to learn about her experience. Jennifer focuses on the career development and employment needs of Syracuse University’s student veteran and military family community.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to your role as assistant director for student veteran and military family members with Career Services and the Office of Veteran & Military Affairs.

Currently, I am a master sergeant in the Army Reserve Careers Division. I have had the privilege to serve in the Army Reserve for over 16 years. During this time, I have guided soldiers’ careers through counseling on benefits and entitlements, administering contracts and bonus awards, transition, and by being a resource for family members. Over the past 10 years at Syracuse University, I have had a number of career-related roles that focus on supporting student success through advising, employer engagement, program and event development, and career management strategies. It is the combination of my military background and higher education experience that has been an asset to the development and growth of this position. What excites me most about this role is seeing to the career success of Syracuse’s student veteran population. 

From your perspective, what are the benefits for military members to study for their master’s degree online? 

There are a number of reasons why getting your master’s degree through an online platform is advantageous for military members. These include the program’s flexible schedule, the caliber of instruction, interactive nature of content, and the overall pace of the program. Online learning really provides the best of both worlds—advancing one’s education while being able to balance full-time work.

What is the role of the Office of Military & Veteran Affairs at Syracuse University?

The newly created Office of Veteran & Military Affairs was established to oversee all veteran- and military-related programs and initiatives at Syracuse University. This includes developing ways and resources to best serve veterans, military-connected students, and military family members. The end goal of OVMA is to make Syracuse University the best place for student veterans.

Read about Jennifer’s advice on hiring veterans.