In an effort to attract and support the growing number of military veterans returning to college as part of the GI Bill, Xavier launched a Veteran Affairs Office on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
The office has two primary functions: To promote Xavier as a military-friendly institution and attract eligible veterans; and to develop and provide support, initiatives and resources to the current population of veteran students both now and as they become alumni.
The new office is being developed and led by David Keszei, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Major and graduate of the University's Executive MBA program. Keszei spent more than two decades as an active and reserve officer in the Marine Corps, and for the last seven years has developed programs for the Marine Corps and the U.S. Department of Defense to help veterans and their families transition back to civilian life. He also developed and led the Office of Corporate Connections and the MBA Professional Development Center within the University's Williams College of Business.
"As a Xavier alum and former Marine officer, I could not be more proud of Xavier for their continued support of veterans and their families, and I am grateful for the opportunity to develop and lead this new office," says Keszei.
The creation of the office comes at a time when the number of military veterans returning to college is growing rapidly as a result of Congress passing the Veterans Administration Post 9/11 GI Bill. The bill provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after Sept. 11, 2001, or individuals honorably discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. The benefits became effective Aug. 1, 2009.
The bill is the most comprehensive education benefit package since the original GI Bill of Rights was signed into law in 1944. For the first time, private institutions such as Xavier can offer veterans educational opportunities that are funded fully through GI Bill. The Veterans Administration estimates 2 million veterans are eligible for the benefits.
Xavier has already been designated as a Yellow Ribbon School by the Veterans Administration, meaning the entire cost of tuition is covered for eligible veterans. In addition, eligible veterans may receive a monthly housing allowance and an annual allowance for books.
Xavier has also become a member of the Servicemen’s Opportunities College Consortium and was named by G.I. Jobs magazine as a "Military Friendly School" for its commitment to educating veterans.