The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s history of educating military personnel goes back longer than its current name. So it is good to see a national publication salute the school as one of the country’s most military-friendly colleges.
In the early 1950s, the U.S. Air Force started the Bootstrap Program. It was designed to encourage members of the military to “lift themselves by the bootstraps” and earn a college degree. UNO, then Omaha University, was one of only a small number of schools nationwide to take part.
Just recently, the Military Times listed UNO as the nation’s sixth most military friendly school in its 2013 “Best for Vets” rankings. That’s up from No. 9 last year. Hundreds of colleges and universities took part in the survey, which ranks the schools on such factors as financial assistance, academic flexibility, campus culture and support services.
UNO’s higher ranking comes after the school opened its military and veterans service office, known as MaV USO, in April to offer a one-stop location where students have access to programs and services specifically designed for active-duty military, veterans and their families. These include help with the GI Bill, deployment assistance and academic support.
The university’s proximity to Offutt Air Force Base means that a large number of veterans have always attended the college, university officials note. But as World-Herald staff writer Matthew Hansen reported, UNO in recent years has sought to beef up veterans services and attract a larger share of the airmen, Marines, sailors and soldiers using the GI Bill as the post-9/11 wars wind down.
Online programs allow a UNO student to continue taking classes even if he or she deploys, and they’re first in line to register for classes when they return home.
Also offered is a bachelor of general studies degree that features more than 45 areas of concentration — many specifically aimed at the career needs of military personnel. The degree recognizes previous college and some military credit, and gives 10 credit hours for at least one year of active-duty service.
“The entire campus is proud of this recognition and passionate about serving our veterans, active military and their families,” UNO Chancellor John Christensen says.
This year, the 1,132 veterans and active-duty military members enrolled at UNO make up more than 7 percent of the school’s student body. These motivated students are a welcome addition to the school and the community.