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UNG earns three military friendly designations for 2018

When U.S. Army veteran Luke Foresman started looking at colleges 3 ½ years ago, he researched universities deemed best for veterans.

To his surprise and relief, the University of North Georgia (UNG), which is located near his Gainesville, Georgia home, was on that list.

"It was a big motivation," said Foresman, who was a sergeant first class in military intelligence before being medically discharged. "I wanted to feel comfortable around other veterans. And I knew here, I could be able to be myself."

UNG captured three separate designations for supporting veterans and military-bound students. The university is a top college in the Military Times Best: Colleges 2018 rankingsnew window; a top school in the Military Advanced Education & Transition'snew window (MAE&T) 2018 Guide to Colleges and Universities rankings; and a gold-level award for being Military Friendlynew window for 2018 by Victory Media.

In the Military Times Best, UNG was ranked 129 out of 218 schools. More than 600 applied for the distinction.

"It's a big honor," said Christy Orr, assistant director of student life for the Veteran and Adult Learner Program (VALP) at UNG.

Formerly known as Best for Vets, Best Colleges 2018 is an editorially independent news project that evaluates the many factors that help make colleges and universities a good fit for service members, military veterans and their families.

"Of the hundreds of schools that applied, fewer than half received the Military Times Best: Colleges designation this year. Only the best made the cut," said George Altman, the Military Times editor in charge of the rankings.

Orr explained UNG has implemented a number of programs on the Dahlonega, Gainesville and Oconee campuses to accommodate students who are military veterans.

Each of the three campuses has an organization committed to providing a network of support to military veterans, their families and civilian supporters. They are Student Veterans of America in Dahlonega, the Student Veterans of North Georgia in Gainesville and the Oconee Campus Veterans Association in Oconee.

The organizations educate the university community about the experiences of military veterans and work with the university administration to meet the needs of student veterans and prospective student veterans; cultivate student veterans' concerns through scheduled meetings, advocacy, social and recreational activities; and foster esprit de corps among student veterans and promote an understanding of student veterans issues.

On the Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses, student veterans have a space specifically designated for them. On the Dahlonega Campus, the Veterans Resource Center has a lounge space, computer stations, free printing, a private restroom, and a kitchenette with a microwave and coffee maker. It also houses some study materials for CLEP examinations, office supplies, and Scantrons. On the Gainesville Campus, the Military Resource Center has a study space, computer stations, free printing, and access to a kitchenette.

On all campuses, UNG designates certain areas as "Green Zones" with university officials trained to help student veterans identify and connect with the appropriate resources.

"If a veteran sees a sticker with Green Zone, then he or she knows it is a safe zone," Orr said.

Foresman said the Green Zone training has helped in the classroom.

"A professor can make accommodations for a veteran who is going to sit in the back of the room to watch the class," he said. "Or they can allow us to record a lecture."

Orr said these accommodations help student veterans succeed.

"It's a good university that allows you to develop at your own pace," Foresman said. "With the smaller classes, you learn more and you can retain more."

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