FSU Named Military Friendly School for Fifth Straight Year
Victory Media, which serves military personnel transitioning into civilian life, has named FSU to its coveted Military Friendly Schools list for the fifth year in a row.
“My primary responsibility is to process paperwork and certify that individuals receiving military educational benefits are enrolled in classes, and I submit these enrollment certifications to the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Danielle L. Dabrowski, FSU’s Veterans Services Coordinator.
According to Dabrowski, FSU has approximately 80 veterans who are enrolled in courses through FSU. One is in Japan, one in India, quite a few in California, and some in Colorado and West Virginia because of the online courses. However, we currently have approximately 60 students on campus.
Dabrowski also ensures that certain veterans are receiving the benefits they are entitled to, which is one of the reasons why Dabrowski feels that FSU is considered a military friendly school.
“Another responsibility that I have is to help maintain FSU’s status as military friendly school. I am an employee of FSU, but I also need to make sure that the veterans at FSU get their benefits.”
Dabrowski explained her role as an inter-mediator for military service members.
“I try to act as a liaison between the military service members and the [U.S. Deparment of Veteran Affairs] because many veterans have a lot of obstacles at times in getting their paperwork processed correctly,” said Dabrowski. “So I act on the behalf of the veterans to guide them or advise them on what the best approach is on the reevaluation of their eligibility or the determination of their disability if they are a disabled veteran.”
Dabrowski additionally gave examples of how the Veterans Service Center serves as a refuge for veterans who feel more comfortable around individuals who share similar experiences.
“We also try to make the transition from military, civilian and college life as smooth as possible because it is definitely not in their comfort zone when they come here. We provide these veterans with a place that they belong through the Veterans Service Center to help close a loop,” said Dabrowski.
One of the primary concerns that Dabrowski has for this issue is for non-traditional aged students who are veterans. “I have some veterans that are non-traditional aged students where when they’re walking through Lane Center they have told me that student’s look at them like they are a custodian or a professor,” said Dabrowski. ” They don’t really like drawing attention to themselves because it makes them very uncomfortable, so the Veterans Service Center acts like a buffer.”
The Veterans Service Center supports veterans from all different military branches and age groups. Some of these veterans served in Vietnam, Desert Storm and Shield, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and several other conflicts.
Dabrowski also explained how students can reach out to military veterans and how the school community is making veterans feel at home. “We partner with the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Toys for Tots this past year through our Students Veterans Organization that is open to anyone,” said Dabrowski. “ This past year we took a big responsibility with Toys for Tots by helping an old gentleman handle the toys through picking them up, sorting them, and delivering them to kids in need.”
On Veterans Day, veterans at Frostburg had the opportunity to show their respect to past military members who served in the line of duty. Each university’s veteran’s office gets to choose a war that they would like to pay honor to, and FSU chose a war that had close ties to some of their students.
“This year was the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam war. The student veterans of America decided that it would be nice to be in alignment with honoring the Vietnam War initiative. We choose this because of how horrible the war was and the stigmas attached to it,” said Dabrowski. ”We have two Vietnam veterans attending FSU and the horrible nightmares that some of those veterans had to experience while not being able to even talk about it when they came home really resonated with our community.”
“We view Veterans Day as a solemn time. Everyone else is all happy because they get a day off work and places are closed, but it’s hard for the veterans because they are forced to remember things that they would probably be better off not having to remember,” said Dabrowski.
According to Dabrowski, East Kentucky University received a grant years ago from the federal government to try and organize an event that would help veterans, and they designed a national roll call as a result. It starts on the west coast at about 10:45 because at about 2:00 Eastern standard time which is 11 o’ clock in the west coast, everybody who signs-up to participate in this roll call has a moment of silence at their ceremonies.
“We decided that we were going to use Vietnam and read all the Marylanders in Vietnam so we narrowed it down from all those in Maryland and we had two people that were actually Frostburg alumni, one being James Graham,” said Dabrowski. “But it was nice because we reached out to alumni reading names. It was a great ceremony, it was more honoring the sacrificing those individuals made and the ability to honor those that served in events like these really mean a lot to these veterans.”