Wednesday, July 15, the College of William and Mary announced the creation of a Veteran-to-Executive Transition program. The program’s initial development will be funded by a $10 million donation from an anonymous alumna of the College.
W&M VET aims to coordinate the resources of multiple disciplines across the College to support veterans in their transition to leadership roles in the private sector and to prepare them for civilian life. The donation will provide continuing funding for the Office of Student Veterans Engagement, which was founded in 2019 and is headed by Charlie Foster M. Ed ‘17.
“These men and women put their lives at risk on our behalf while serving our country, and we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude,” the anonymous donor said in a press statement. “Through this program, we can do our part to ensure their successful integration into life beyond the military. I believe William and Mary is an ideal place to help prepare them for their next career.”
The new initiative builds on existing infrastructure for veterans at the College, including programs at the Marshall-Wythe Law School, the School of Education, the Cohen Career Center and the Raymond A. Mason School of Business, and also provides for the creation of new transitional programs.
“The establishment of the W&M VET program reaffirms the university’s long-standing military tradition and commitment to veterans. The initiative will significantly expand our capacity to bring campus partners together to support our exceptional veterans.”
“We see our new program as an opportunity not only to accelerate the professional transitions of highly skilled and experienced men and women but also to approach holistically W&M’s wide array of programming for military students and veterans,” College President Katherine Rowe said in a press statement.
In reaching across campus, the program will also include a holistic approach to wellness, with the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center working with veterans and their families to help manage the mental and psychological aspects of the transition to the private sector and civilian life more broadly. The comprehensive initiative will also attempt to create connections between veterans and connect them to mentors in executive positions.
Plans for the program include the creation of a new position, special assistant for military and veterans affairs. The position, as yet unfilled, will initially report directly to Rowe. Once the special assistant has been named, they will coordinate with an advisory group, of which Chancellor Robert M. Gates, ‘65 L.H.D. ‘98, who also served as the US Secretary of Defense, will serve as honorary chair. Kathryn Floyd, director of the WHole of Government Center of Excellence will also consult with the special assistant and the advisory board.
Retired Brigadier General James R. Golden, who helped coordinate the project, called it a ‘game changer’ for the College.
“The establishment of the W&M VET program reaffirms the university’s long-standing military tradition and commitment to veterans,” he said. “The initiative will significantly expand our capacity to bring campus partners together to support our exceptional veterans.”
The College is ideally located to serve the veteran community, with a higher concentration of military personnel serving in the region than anywhere else in the country, bar the Pentagon. According to the press statement, the Hampton Roads region, which includes Williamsburg, sees between 12,000 and 15,000 leave the military every year.