On April 7, the College announced the upcoming launch of the Vassar Veterans Initiative (VassarVets), replacing Vassar’s relationship with The Posse Foundation, in efforts to expand its overall outreach and support for student veterans. The initiative will include establishing an on-campus, director-level position dedicated to serving U.S. military veterans, who will be chosen by July 1.
Vice President of Communications Amanita Duga-Carroll said VassarVets will be extending off the Posse Program’s achievements. In a written correspondence, she explained, “It will build upon the foundation set by the work that we have achieved with the Posse Foundation, adding a new, full-time position dedicated to further enhance the college experience of Vassar’s veteran student population.”
Vassar became the first higher education institution to partner with The Posse Foundation in 2012 for recruiting veterans for enrollment. Vassar is already a Yellow Ribbon School, meaning the College agrees to cover the cost of tuition and fees in excess of the amount payable, under the Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. The development of VassarVets will also extend need-blind admissions to U.S. military service members and veterans applying as transfers, according to Duga-Carroll. She also noted, “The College will also meet 100% of veteran students’ demonstrated need[s] for educational expenses.”
Out of the 31 veteran students currently attending Vassar, nine are expected to graduate as part of the Class of 2022. Veteran and first-generation student, Adam Vazquez ’24 said that the Posse Veterans Program has and will continue to be his guide through higher academia. “I was unsure of how to properly navigate through college, but Posse has been there every step of the way. Their mentorship has helped me focus on a major, their college training prepared me for the rigorous workload at Vassar and their career counselors have helped me secure internships, network with people that are already in a career of my interest, and work towards my future,” he shared.
Although Vazquez was sad to hear about the end of Vassar’s partnership with Posse, he is confident that Vassar will create and maintain a strong veterans program. “I have trust in Vassar College to create and maintain a strong Veterans program,” he said.
Another student veteran, Leon Moore ’24 shared similar sentiments on the foundation. “The Posse Program has lent me so many great opportunities. They have a vast network of support of important people from different sectors,” he explained in a written correspondence, adding, “I, for one, am glad that Vassar is taking steps to up the recruitment of veterans but I’m sad that it’ll be without the post-grad and career connections that Posse has.”
President Elizabeth Bradley, among the Deans and other voices, worked on the development of VassarVets, according to Duga-Carroll. The Director of VassarVets position will report to the Dean of Admission and Student Financial Services. “Once the new director is onboard, the person will engage students and others into discussion to give input on how best to recruit veterans and to meet their educational needs,” Duga-Carroll clarified.
Bradley expressed feelings of solidarity for student veterans at Vassar. She added, “I have spoken with members of Vassar’s veteran alum community, other alums, trustees, and others who have supported our veterans activities at Vassar. I have been heartened by the excitement they have expressed following the announcement and we are eager to get started!”
However, Moore said he had wished more veteran students were not involved in the process, or even asked about it. “We just had an emergency meeting with some Vassar staff a few weeks ago and got told that after the Class of 2026 that Vassar would be pulling out of Posse in favor of their own program,” he explained. Moore continued, “It would’ve been nice to at least be considered in the decision-making process.”
Vazquez shared the sadness for the end of Vassar’s Posse Program, “I think at first, it will be difficult for Vassar to reach a diverse field of veterans the way Posse did, but over time it will become better. I understand that these are big decisions Vassar has to make—and to be frank, there are many things at work that are above my pay grade, but I support them. I’m just happy to be here.” Moore expressed similar sentiments, “I’m glad Vassar is taking a bigger role in recruiting vets but we should’ve been considered. Especially since the vets on campus have been fighting tooth and nail to become an official organization for years now,” he noted.
Yet, Vazquez and Moore both have hope for the future director position. Moore said, “Hopefully this new director of the VassarVets Initiative reaches out to the VVA (Vassar Veterans Association).” Vazquez added, “I know without a doubt that the new on-campus position will be great for Vassar’s commitment to veterans. I appreciate their seriousness and dedication to this task.”
The new director will report to the Dean of Admission and Student Financial Services Sonya Smith, while working closely with people in the Dean of the College and Dean of Faculty offices. Smith stated, “I am grateful to those who stepped up to serve our country, and it’s heartening to me that Vassar continues to lead in offering access to higher education. This new initiative rightly deepens the College’s commitment toward our veteran community, and I’m excited for what’s ahead.”