Rutgers–Camden Named Purple Heart University

purpleheart-bannerRutgers–Camden becomes first higher education institution in New Jersey to earn the distinction

By Tom McLaughlin

Further strengthening its reputation as a national leader in student veteran support services, Rutgers University–Camden has been named a Purple Heart University by the Military Order of the Purple Heart – the first higher education institution in the state of New Jersey to earn the distinction.

The award recognizes Rutgers–Camden as emblematic of the organization’s primary goal to provide services to veterans and their families.

“We are so amazed with the comprehensive list of support services for student veterans and, most importantly, how student veterans themselves speak about Rutgers–Camden,” says Joseph Belardo, New Jersey state commander for the Military Order of the Purple Heart and a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War. “It is so apparent that student veterans at Rutgers–Camden have an overflowing joy in attending the university.”

purpleheart-copyRutgers–Camden’s Office of Veterans Affairs will receive an official proclamation and plaque recognizing its designation – which is now effective – and raise a Purple Heart flag during a special ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 9, as part of the campus’s annual Veterans Day luncheon.

“We are truly honored to receive this recognition, which is indicative of Rutgers–Camden’s forward motion in providing additional services to our men and women,” says Fred Davis, director of the Office of Veterans Affairs at Rutgers University–Camden. “We will continue providing outstanding support for our veterans and military personnel.”

As Belardo explains, when veterans come out of the military, they often don’t know where or how to begin taking advantage of the educational benefits to which they are entitled. Rutgers University–Camden is at the forefront of helping them take that first step.

“From day one, Rutgers–Camden has a staff dedicated to making them feel comfortable,” says Belardo. “This alone goes a long way in taking away the mental stress that many veterans experience when trying to begin this process.”

From the first phone call or office visit, explains Davis, he becomes student veterans’ point of contact, helping them to navigate the process and ensure that they are in compliance with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs requirements for educational benefits.

Rutgers University–Camden – which has also been recognized as a Military Friendly School by Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs magazine, for the past six years – has taken several successful measures to help student veterans make a smooth transition from the military to academic life. Every fall, during traditional Welcome Week festivities, the campus hosts a breakout orientation program tailored for new student veterans.

The campus also utilizes the Veteran Cert portal system, enabling student veterans in any location to upload documents, which are accessible to all appropriate personnel.

To further accommodate veterans, Rutgers–Camden opened the student veterans lounge, located on the ground floor of the Campus Center, in 2009. The space has become a popular gathering spot for student veterans to study, talk, and share a sense of camaraderie.

In addition, Rutgers–Camden established a Veterans Emergency Fund, which enables student veterans in dire circumstances to take a temporary loan and repay it on a monthly basis using their V.A. benefits.

Rutgers–Camden’s veterans affairs office has also been a major proponent of the student veterans group at Rutgers–Camden and its goal of encouraging student veteran participation in various clubs and activities on campus. In addition, the office runs a series of field trips, focusing on American and/or military history, which are open to all students.

For more information about veterans services at Rutgers University–Camden, visit veterans.camden.rutgers.edu.

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