Mason named a ‘military friendly’ institution

uniform in class
File photo by Ron Aira/Creative Services

George Mason University has been named a military friendly institution by Viqtory, Military Friendly for the 10th year, an important distinction for a university committed to veterans and other nontraditional students.

“It definitely shows our commitment to our veteran population and our community,” said Jennifer Connors, director of Mason’s Office of Military Services. “And it affirms our commitment to this population on a much greater scale.”

Mason has about 4,000 “military-related students,” which Connors said includes anyone with a military affiliation, through dependency, self-service or a spouse.

Veterans can take advantage of a plethora of services having to do with their education, well-being, internships, professional development, and guidance through the military’s benefits program. All the services are available through Mason’s new Military, Veterans and Families Initiative (MVFI).

“Members of the military and their families make untold sacrifices for the sake of the nation and our freedoms,” said Keith Renshaw, MVFI’s founder and a professor of psychology at Mason. “It is our responsibility to give back to these individuals in whatever way we can.”

Launched in November 2020, the program showcases in one place all of Mason’s efforts and services that support the university’s military-related population.

In that way, Renshaw said, “We can better connect the existing programs, spark creation of new programs, and raise the visibility of all that we do for those internal and external to Mason.”

Directed by Renshaw, and with a philanthropic gift from Technatomy, whose managing director, Nadeem Butler, BS Finance and Decision Science ’91, is a veteran and Mason alumnus, MVFI divides its programs into four “pillars”: education, research, direct services and workforce development.

In that sense, it is similar to portals open to all Mason students. Connors said that is the point.

“A veteran is just like any adult learner pursuing an education with the exception that they have an incredible skill set that they have gained from military experience,” she said.

It is that experience that sets them apart, Connors added.

“Veterans have had incredible experiences, worldly experiences, an awareness of global experience on a different scale,” she said. “And they bring it to the classroom. They bring those leadership traits, the ability to work in a group, lead a team, collaborate, compromise, all the things that are strategic to our relationships. It’s a voice of experience that very few Americans have.”