All right, fall in, group attention! At ease. Andrew Matt recently became the new Veterans Success Center coordinator at Edinboro.
“I’ve always helped soldiers inside the Army. Now I want to do more for them outside as well,” Matt said. “That’s why I came here, that’s why I pursued this position.”
Matt is a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, serving since August 2014 as detachment commander with the 350th Psychological Operations Company based in Twinsburg, Ohio. Prior to his service in the Army Reserve, he was with the 10th Mountain Division, a field artillery officer in Ft. Drum, New York.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Akron in 2005, a law degree from Marshall College of Law in 2008 and a master’s degree in public administration from Cleveland State University.
“One of the things I’d really like to focus on is building more of a social network presence,” Matt said. “I want to get veterans involved with LinkedIn to develop a network that they can use to advance their careers.”
The military looks at things in phases, while looking at the goal at the end and making a plan on how to achieve that goal. The saying goes, “Plan your work and work your plan.” That is what Matt is trying to establish here at Edinboro.
“I see the experience as something more holistic. First, you had your military career and now you’re starting your academic career and there’s something that’s going to come after it,” Matt said.
So, it’s a path or a journey, if you will, that you are on and Matt and his team are there to assist you on that path. The Veterans Success Center, located in Crawford Hall room 208A, has many programs available to help veterans not only succeed in his or her academic career, but also to aide them for the next step after they leave Edinboro.
Matt and his staff are not only just available at the center in Crawford Hall, but there’s also the Student Veterans Association, which helps build a social network for veterans. There is a lounge in the Veterans Success Center, complete with a television, gaming system, couches and workstations, if the veteran needs to catch up on class work.
I myself found it very beneficial when I had a long break between classes and just wanted to relax. It’s a great relief to just sit and hang out with a bunch of other veterans.
In his work for veterans, Matt coordinates with a lot of other student aide sections within the Edinboro community. He ensures that the veterans have access to these programs and he develops new ones to ensure the success of every student veteran.
“I’ve worked with several veterans who have disabilities and also those who are currently serving in the reserves or National Guard. I ensure that when those students are called to duty that upon their return they can pick right back up where they left off, so the veteran or service member doesn’t miss out on anything,” Matt said.
“Right now, the veteran contacts either myself or the student workers here and we go over the different options for the veteran’s funding in regards to either VA vocational rehab or the post 9/11 GI bill,” he said.
For example, the National Guard soldiers have access to the EAP, extra funding through the state, as soon as they sign up.
Matt also wants to update the Veterans Success Center’s website as a part of Edinboro’s website to include an option that assists veterans who are looking for financial aid.
It would work like this: The veteran could log onto the site, put in basic information about him or herself (where and what branch they served in) and it will give an automated response as to what the veteran qualifies for.
Other universities have instituted this with great success. Matt stresses the fact that while he and his staff can help the veteran in selecting which financial aid program works best, they cannot however select it for the individual nor can they push one program over another.
“Have a way forward. There has to be a plan, you have 10 years to use your benefits. So you really need a plan to take you onward. Ask yourself what is your end state? Where do you want to be?” Matt said.
Matt continued by stating, “You can spend a little time undeclared, but you need to figure it out and quickly where you want to go and what you want to do.”
It’s all about making you look good to future employers. You might have the tag of being a veteran, but that will only get you so far. It opens a lot of doors, but there are also a lot of veterans out there right now.
You can get a degree and be involved with the right extracurricular activities and organizations and have the right internships that really make you stand out. That way when you turn in your resume, it’s the best possible option to employers. When you go out looking for a job, you’re competing against every single person out there in that field so you have to consider what makes you look good.
“The sooner you have a plan of what you want to be, the sooner you can make a plan [and] the sooner you can start working the plan to get you where you want to go,” Matt said.
George Schmidt is a contributing writer for The Spectator.