Grand Valley State University

02/19/2020 | News release | Archived content

Student veteran finds support and strong community at GVSU, a 2020 Military Friendly School

Posted on February 19, 2020

Student veteran Sarah Anderson said she chose to attend Grand Valley because it was close to home, but she said she didn't expect to find a community and university support system that would be instrumental in helping her transition from military to civilian life.

'Veterans can face some unique challenges,' said Anderson. 'Most are older, some have been living on their own for years, many have been to a combat zone. It's crucial to have a community of support when joining those experiences with a traditional higher education environment.'

She said it is this type of support that qualifies Grand Valley to be named a military friendly school for 2020-2021 by Military Friendly®.

Anderson, 29, served nearly eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a public affairs specialist stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California and the Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

The junior, who is majoring in both public relations and advertising, and photography, serves as vice president of the Student Veterans of America GVSU Chapter. 'This group gave me a place to go when I needed help or people to commune with who are going through the same transition as I am,' she said. 'I became involved with the organization because it helped me adjust and I wanted to help others adjust.'

Anderson said she is grateful for how quickly President Philomena V. Mantella created a position for a service officer to help veterans navigate their earned benefits and ease their stress during their higher learning experience.

'When President Mantella first came, she asked students what they needed. One veteran stood up and said that the veterans need a service officer. We have benefits like the GI Bill, but if you don't know how to use the benefits, you can easily get lost,' she said.

The Military Friendly® ranking recognizes higher education institutions that provide the best opportunities for veterans and their spouses. The list provides a comprehensive guide for veterans and their families using data sources from federal agencies and survey information from participating organizations.

More than 1,000 schools participated in the 2020-21 survey, with 625 schools earning the designation. The full list of recognized schools will be published in the May issue of G.I. Jobs magazine.

Ratings were determined in part by Grand Valley's ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer) and loan default rates for all students, specifically for student veterans.

Grand Valley consistently receives national recognition for its commitment to veterans, offering a number of programs.

• Student Veterans Network ( provides support for veterans, active service members and dependents in successfully progressing to degree completion, and on to post-military careers.

• TRIO Veterans Upward Bound program ( provides free academic support services to low-income veterans who want to complete degree programs.

• Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab ( gives veterans and military families the skills, knowledge and opportunities they need to develop and launch a business.

For more information about the military friendly ranking, visit

For More Information Contact: Dottie Barnes in University Communications - 616-331-2221