Knapp addresses student veterans on eve of war anniversary

Just days before the ninth anniversary of the Afghanistan war, University President Steven Knapp touted GW’s efforts to support veterans and discussed ways other universities can support student veterans on their campuses at the 2010 Student Veterans of America National Conference Sunday morning.

Knapp said colleges have a responsibility to support veterans, explaining that GW has taken many steps to increase veteran services, including signing onto the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides scholarship money to veterans who served in the military after Sept. 11.

“Yellow Ribbon allows GW to put money up to be matched by the Department of Veterans Affairs and to split some or all of the difference,” said Brian Hawthorne, who is on the board of directors for the Student Veterans of America and who attended Knapp’s speech at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center. “In the case of undergraduates, GW splits the entire difference.”

Outreach Coordinator of GW’s Office of Veteran Services Mary Waring also attended the event, and said out of 4,000 colleges, “GW falls at number 21 on the ‘best for vets’ list that Militarytimes.com puts out.”

Knapp’s remarks came four days before the anniversary of the Afghanistan war Oct. 7, in which more than 500 student veterans currently enrolled at GW have served. More than 260 of those students are part of the Yellow Ribbon Program that provides veterans with free undergraduate tuition and a 71 percent discount for graduate tuition.

Many of these vets have friends who are still fighting in the war.

“Progress is not what anyone had hoped it would have been,” said Scott Disney, a sophomore who served in Afghanistan as a human intelligence collector. “But given all the circumstances and the unforeseen things we’ve faced, it’s about where you could expect it to be in retrospect.”

During nearly a decade of war operations, a total of 1,203 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense. An increase in troops this summer brought the total number of U.S. service members in Afghanistan to nearly 100,000.

The anniversary of the Afghanistan war is “kind of an emotional thing for members of the group,” said junior Ryan Bos, president of the GW Veterans, who served in Iraq until 2007. “It’ll probably be a GW Vets internal commemoration.”

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