Sacramento State’s Student Veterans Success Program is a crucial campus support system for men and women who have served their country. It assists more than 1,200 veterans and their dependents attending the University, providing them with financial assistance and guidance. Wells Fargo has been consistently supportive of campus vets, recently donating $100,000 to support the program.
These funds frequently help bridge the gap between the time veterans register for classes and receive their GI Bill checks. Student Veterans Organization (SVO) President Dustin McMillan, who began college four years ago, oversees the program that helps veterans make the transition from the military to Sac State.
McMillan served 20 years in the Air Force as a boom operator on aerial tankers. The Shreveport, La, native, who grew up in Charleston, S.C., is a third generation Air Force veteran.
His tours of duty ranged from Kosovo to Somalia to Desert Storm with assignments in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he helped create airfields. He retired in Sacramento in 2007 because his wife, a Sac State grad, has a business here. After completing his first two years at Sacramento City College, he transferred to Sac State and is scheduled to graduate this spring.
Meantime, the government major is serving an internship in the governor’s office where he handles constituent requests. His plans include applying for Sac State’s Capitol Fellows Program, getting a master’s degree, and then entering government service. “I have no interest in running for office,” he says, “I just want to work in the background and help people.”
As SVO president, he was instrumental in putting the Veterans Diversity Awareness Conference together in October. The conference brought students, faculty and staff together to help make Sacramento State an even more welcoming campus experience for veterans and their families.
McMillan’s plans to build on the program’s success by hosting a career day for area veterans in February and bringing student veteran groups throughout northern California campuses to Sac State this spring.
He praises the campus veterans’ center that helps returning servicemen and servicewomen navigate the rules and rigors of college. Many vets are much older than their classmates McMillan notes, meaning they need some mentoring. “Our program does just that, helping them make the adjustment,” he says. That means ensuring that they receive the financial and medical benefits due them. “We make sure that they know help is there for them,” he says.
McMillan commends Sac State’s faculty and administration for being so supportive. The University has deferred fees for veterans, allowing them to register for and attend classes until their government checks arrive. It also offers priority registration for veterans.
The Student Veterans Success Program helps explain why Sac State student-veteran enrollment is the second largest throughout the 23-campus California State University system. Dustin McMillan reflects the resolve of those men and women who, having served their country in uniform, are looking to excel in the civilian world.
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