by Rebecca Rodriguez, contributing reporter
For the fifth consecutive year, UNF has been named one of the most military-friendly schools in the nation by G.I. Jobs magazine.
The Military and Veterans Resource Center was created three years ago.
Ray Wikstrom, director of the center, said, “We provide a great number of services and resources that other schools do not.”
Their services include mental health counseling and working with four of UNF’s colleges for grants or special programming. This programming helps teachers deal with military students who cannot enroll in consecutive semesters during active duty.
Wikstrom, a retired Navy captain, became the center director two and a half years ago, soon after the resource center was opened.
“One of every five people is associated with someone in the military,” Wikstrom said.
Wikstrom said half of the 1,000 veterans who attend UNF take advantage of the resource center.
Wikstrom said the reason the community needs to be supportive, especially with helping them get jobs, is that many soldiers are coming out of service and using their G.I. Bill benefits.
Kenneth Arlinghaus is professor of dietetics at UNF, the head of nutrition management at Naval Hospital Jacksonville and an active Navy commander.
Arlinghaus said, “I have nothing but good experiences so far as a military member. In fact, it was the degree of experience I had that was so attractive to UNF to hire me as an instructor.”
Arlinghaus said, “Sometimes practical experience out in the real world has a huge benefit to students. Being able to provide that makes my class pretty interesting.” He believes that members of the military in our country have a unique perspective on a number of conflicts.
“The more that universities embrace military individuals and take into account everything that they’ve already gone through and the experience that they bring to the university, they will understand exactly what an asset it is to have military students,” said Arlinghaus.
Logan Lauderdale, biology sophomore, said he was not aware UNF has received recognition for being a military-friendly school, but still believes it is important.
“From a business standpoint, it is a good source of income. It is also good to support the troops, which is a humanitarian aspect,” Lauderdale said.
Sam Mcaleer, junior, said although she has only been going here for a few weeks, she realized that UNF is a military-friendly school.
“It is important to make sure everyone knows that we support what they’ve done or what they are going through,” Mcaleer said.
Email Rebecca Rodriguez at [email protected]