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Drexel Named 'Military Friendly School' for Fifth Straight Year

SACRAMENTO, CA, September 23, 2013

After the Post-9/11 GI Bill passed in 2008, providing tuition benefits for men and women who served in the military after Sept. 11, 2001, Drexel leaders made sure to roll out the welcome mat for new students who had served their country.

And five years later, it's tough to argue with the results. Drexel this month was named for the fifth year in a row to the "Military Friendly Schools" list compiled by Victory Media.

The list recognizes what Victory considers the top 20 percent of U.S. universities, colleges and trade schools in the area of welcoming military veterans, active-duty service members and military spouses. Drexel has landed on the list every year it's been published.

And that's no accident. University leaders decided five years ago to welcome post-9/11 veterans with open arms—and Drexel has been military-friendly for much longer than that.

"If you look at the history of the University, you find that we are a military-friendly university from the very beginnings," said Rebecca Weidensaul, associate dean of students.

The National Guard Armory on Drexel's campus was built in 1916, and until 1969 all male Drexel students were required to serve in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps.

After passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Drexel continued that tradition by agreeing to fully fund veterans' education in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, providing full tuition and fees for an unlimited number of veterans eligible for the bill's Yellow Ribbon program.

That alone made Drexel unusual, said Melissa Englund, assistant vice president in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Finance, Treasurer & CFO and a co-chair of the University's Veterans Task Force. But leaders wanted to do more.

"We knew that we needed to support them in more than the financial ways," Englund said. "They were going to have other challenges coming to campus."

Drexel didn't want veterans drawn to the University by a free education to feel unwelcome once they stepped on campus. And a veteran returning from Iraq or Afghanistan often needs a much different kind of support than an 18-year-old fresh out of high school.

"You look at them, and they look like the typical 21-year-old," Englund said. "But they're not. They've had very different life experiences."

So Drexel created an infrastructure devoted to helping those veterans and making them feel at home.