San Diego State University’s foremost expert on veteran’s benefits will now be advising some of Washington’s top officials about education, training and benefit programs for veterans, active duty military and their dependents.
Joan Putnam, the director of SDSU's Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center has been invited to serve as a secretarial appointee to the Veterans' Advisory Committee on Education. This distinguished committee is made up of 10 members from military-serving organizations all over the country and makes recommendations both to Eric K. Shinseki — the retired four-star general who now serves as the secretary of Veterans Affairs, and to Congress.
“Joan has transformed SDSU’s Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center into a nationally recognized model for serving student veterans,” said Sandra Cook, assistant vice president for academic affairs at SDSU, who oversees the Veterans Center.
“This appointment to the Veterans Committee on Education recognizes Joan's expertise and influence and San Diego State University's commitment to improving educational services to those who have served our country so proudly.”
A big voice
The Veterans' Advisory Committee on Education will first have its first meeting via teleconference on June 28 and its second in person in Washington, D.C. in August to share ideas and discuss policy.
“This is such an amazing opportunity, not just to represent San Diego State, but to have a big voice at the table to help shape the benefits available to veterans and their dependents all over the country,” said Putnam. “It is really a great honor.”
Putnam is preparing for the teleconference by speaking with veterans who are part of the SDSU community and with the Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center team. “I am eager to hear what our vets want and plan to use their feedback as the basis for my recommendations,” she said.
One student veteran she spoke to is Paul Contreras, an active duty student-veteran who has been in the U.S. Navy for 15 years. Topics that are top of mind to him include break pay reinstatement, career services personnel trained to help translate military experience into civilian language, psychological services geared toward student veterans and better veterans centers at colleges and universities all over the country.
“Joan is the perfect choice to sit on the Veterans' Advisory Committee on Education,” said Contreras, president of SDSU’s Student Veterans Organization (SVO). “SDSU is the role model for student veteran organizations across the country — she knows what works and doesn’t work and has more experience than anyone else helping student veterans make the most of their education benefits.”
Putnam said that education benefits are crucial for student-veterans, not just at SDSU, but all over the country. “The education they receive, combined with the leadership skills they acquired in the military, will open doors for them for excellent job opportunities,” she said.
SDSU is recognized nationally as a veteran-friendly university, serving more than 2,400 student veterans, active duty, reservists and dependents each year.
In the Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center, veterans, reservists and active duty personnel, as well as their dependents, utilize resources that help with applying to the university, accessing military benefits and finding housing and employment.
SDSU is also home to the nation's first on-campus housing facility exclusively for veterans. The Veterans House offers a unique on-campus living experience for students, which includes a large meeting space, study space, a full kitchen and patio. The co-ed complex offers priority residency to SDSU veterans, active duty, reservists and dependents.