Student Veterans of America Announces 1,000th Chapter at Saint Leo University

April 23, 2014

An official ceremony to celebrate Saint Leo University being recognized as the Student Veterans of America (SVA) 1,000th chapter occurred Wednesday, April 23, in the Student Community Center Greenfelder-Denlinger Boardrooms.

SVA is a 501(c) (3) coalition of student veterans groups on college campuses across the globe. These member chapters are the “boots on the ground” that help veterans reintegrate into campus life and succeed academically. Each chapter is an officially recognized student group by their university or college, and provides a peer-to-peer network for veterans who are attending the school. Additionally, chapters coordinate campus activities, offer pre-professional networking, and generally provide a touchstone for student veterans in higher education.

With the addition of Saint Leo University, Student Veterans of America has passed the organization’s 1,000 chapter mark. The size of these student groups vary by school, from as small as three, to as many as 100 members. SVA chapters are open to all those committed to creating supportive veteran campuses. Groups are comprised of pre- and post-9/11 veterans, civilians, and military dependents.

“We’re thrilled to be reaching our goal of establishing over 1,000 chapters two years ahead of anticipation. We feel this is a testament to the tide of veterans who are seeking higher education, and see the power and value of being involved with an SVA chapter,” said SVA’s president and CEO, D. Wayne Robinson.

Special guests at the ceremony included U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakas (R-FL), 12th congressional district, Will Hubbard, vice president of external affairs at SVA, SVA chapter president Nicholas Lanier, and SVA faculty advisor Dr. Jose Coll (top photo) associate professor of social work and the university’s director of Veteran Student Services.

Lanier (bottom photo), a medically retired veteran of the U.S. Army, was named the Outstanding Student in Political Science at last week’s Academic Excellence Day at University Campus. Lanier knows firsthand the challenges of transitioning from warrior to scholar. He is a combat veteran currently completing his degree in political science and international affairs after being medically retired from the U.S. Army. Nick hopes to achieve his Ph.D. and use his experiences and knowledge to continue to contribute ”the voice of the veteran to universities and colleges.”

For more information, contact Jose E. Coll, director of Veteran Student Services, at (352) 588-8234 or jose.coll@saintleo.edu.