photo courtesy of MSU Billings
MVSC at MSUB Connects Veterans & Military Affiliated Students to Resources
November 8, 2022
by Kelly McCandless
Montana State University Billings’ Military and Veterans Success Center (MVSC) provides a warm and inviting space for veteran and military affiliated students to study, relax, and socialize, while staff help students navigate the Veterans Affairs rules and regulations, ensuring they maximize educational benefits and stipends which allow them to successfully complete their education.
The MVSC is led by Shane Grantham who shares that, in general, once someone becomes a veteran, many experience a loss of purpose, camaraderie, and community, since these are taken away when leaving the service. “Almost all veterans feel that sense of loss, and we are trying to recreate a sense of community, purpose, and camaraderie at MSUB without forcing it on anyone.”
Grantham is a retired Combat Engineer in the U.S. Army who completed three deployments to Iraq and served in numerous leadership roles, culminating as a company First Sergeant. He graduated from MSUB in 2022 with his Bachelor of Arts in History. Eric Brown is the Center’s School Certifying Official and has been in this role since September 2020. Brown retired from the U.S. Navy in 2015 after 20 years serving as a military journalist and public affairs officer. He holds four degrees, two are from MSUB in Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Rehabilitation Services.
All the benefits for MSUB veteran and military-affiliated students go through the MVSC. These benefits include the majority, if not all, of their educational cost, and some receive a housing allowance, which is crucial for many to support themselves and their families throughout their education.
This fall, MSUB saw a 10 percent increase in veteran and military-affiliated student enrollment compared to last fall. Grantham shares that he makes sure to attend events when appropriate to showcase services and benefits to military personnel such as the GI Bill, tuition waivers, scholarships, and on campus resources. When he talks to veterans about the Center, he approaches it from a resource standpoint and not solely a recruiting focus. He introduces the Center as a resource for any veteran who has questions about their educational benefits and beyond. “It is always what’s in their best interest, whether that is MSUB or another institution, but either way we are here to help them,” said Grantham.
Besides being the main hub for coordinating veteran education benefits, the Center offers free tutoring, a warm and welcoming lounge with comfortable couches, TVs, and the ‘Jacket DFAC (a term used in the military referring to dining facilities), which is a small kitchen stocked with snacks and beverages available to students. The Center has lounges both at the University and City College campuses and the Montana Veterans Affairs office is housed on MSUB’s university campus in the College of Education, making it very accessible for students to meet with the Montana VA when necessary.
MSUB has received many distinguishing accolades for its support and education of veterans, including being named a gold rated Military Friendly School for 2022-'23 from the website MilitaryFriendly.com, a Purple Heart University, awarded by the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and reapproval for the MyCAA, which is a military spouse scholarship program for active-duty spouses to help them complete a certificate or associate degree program.
Learn more about MSUB’s Military and Veteran’s Success Center.
Kelly McCandless is a Billings native who loves a well-planned adventure, being outdoors when the weather is nice, historic fiction and hot coffee. She’s passionate about writing, cooking, education, travel and doing all of these things with her husband Ryan and their two incredible daughters
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