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ASU ranked No. 66 on Military Times' 'Best For Vets' list

The Military Times annually ranks universities on how well they accommodate student veterans

Hassan Chaudhri - veteran ASU student

ASU accountancy freshman and U.S. Army veteran Hassan Chaudhri speaks about his experience as a veteran student at ASU outside of Lattie F. Coor Hall on ASU's Tempe campus on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017.

Veterans face many challenges after returning home from service. Those who choose to enroll in higher education face even more.

The quality of the resources that universities provide to veterans is variable, something measured in the Military Times annual rankings of top schools for veterans, which put ASU at No. 66 among four-year universities. The rankings are based on a veteran student's access to a veteran's center, policy, post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, staff support and graduation rate for veterans. 

"We work with veteran students from their initial application all the way through their graduation ... and beyond to their professional development," said Steven Borden, director of ASU's Pat Tillman Veterans Center. "There is a direct alignment between what we see in the institution's charter and what we do with the veteran community."

ASU's charter measures the University's success "not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed," the charter states. 

The Veterans Center works with ASU student vets to reintegrate them into a learning environment and help them achieve lifelong success following their departure from the service. The center works with veterans on academic advising, transfer of military credits, scholarships and support resources.

Hassan Chaudhri is a veteran and an accountancy freshman at ASU. He said returning from three years in the United States Army and going to school was a challenge.

"Coming back to school was definitely harder than it would have been coming straight out of high school," Chaudhri said. "Things like math and writing are expendable skills that need to be practiced on a regular basis that I didn't use a lot in the military."

But he said the University has been accommodating. 

"The school is very veteran-friendly and that helped me transition back to normal life," Chaudhri said. "From the first day I sent in my application, the Pat Tillman Center was calling me every couple of weeks to make sure I knew what I was doing. Any time I got confused, I could call them and they could help me fill out my paperwork."

He said that when he first returned, he had gone without money from the VA for more than a month. The Veterans Center, Chaudhri said, found a solution in a day.

ASU fell in the rankings from No. 33 in 2016. Borden said that the University does not quite understand the drop and is continuing to provide a positive environment for student vets.

"We are trying to review the weight of different items within the survey and how the scoring is done," Borden said. "We do not know the reason behind this yet, just that the formula for how survey responses are weighed and the questions asked vary slightly from year to year."

The Tillman Center and ASU also hold a Salute To Service series of events annually. The events honor those who have served the country through military appreciation athletic events, performances, panel discussions and activities sponsored by student clubs on all four campuses.

ASU also had their Salute To Service football game against the University of Colorado on Nov. 4. The team wore special "brotherhood" uniforms to honor those who have served in the military.

The Military Times did not respond to request for comment.

ZoĆ« Slade, a nursing freshman at ASU whose father served in the Coast Guard, said she's seen how important it is to help veterans integrate back into society. 

"Veterans are the ones that put their lives at risk to protect our country," Slade said. "By helping them transition back into society after their service, we are showing our gratitude to those who were willing to lose everything to keep us safe."

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