Lehman College Named A Military Friendly School for 2021-2022

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By LISA HIRSCHFIELD

Lehman College has been named a Military Friendly School for 2021-22, a recognition earned by institutions that meet specific benchmarks for embracing and supporting service members, veterans, and their dependents.

To qualify for the designation, schools are graded on their ability to provide sustainable and meaningful benefits for veterans in a range of areas, including tuition, retention, specialized programming, resources such as advisors and staff, and opportunities for students to connect with their peers. Institutions are evaluated by Viqtory, a media company that caters to military members and their families, using public data, responses to a proprietary survey, and guidelines established by an advisory panel of higher education and veterans affairs (VA) leaders.

Of some 1,200 schools that submitted responses to Viqtory’s 2021-22 survey, Lehman is one of 747 institutions to earn the Military Friendly designation. Five other CUNY schools—York College, the CUNY School of Professional Studies, Bronx Community College, Kingsborough Community College, and Queensborough Community College—also made the list, which can be found at www.militaryfriendly.com.

Lehman has been recognized as a Military Friendly school roughly 10 times in the past 13 years. Luis Soltero-Rodriguez, director of Lehman’s Office of Veterans and Military Affairs, credits this, in part, for the College’s popularity among veterans, active and reserve service members, and their families.

“The designation has made our school much more attractive to prospective [military] students,” he said. “They say that we have created a great environment that makes the VA community feel at home and part of a team again [after] separating from the service.”

Since he became director in 2016, Soltero-Rodriguez, himself a veteran, has worked hard to create a warm and inclusive space for the VA community. The office offers advisement and assistance with personal, professional, and academic issues; helps students obtain veterans’ benefits; provides mentoring; and develops experiential learning opportunities in conjunction with college departments, which give students an advantage as they pursue their chosen careers.

In the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has changed, but hardly diminished, the office’s work. On the contrary, Soltero-Rodriguez and his staff have worked even harder to maintain the services that Lehman is known for, from holding Wellness Wednesday Zoom meetups to providing virtual workshops on topics such as pet ownership for veterans. For Soltero-Rodriguez, staying connected to the students he serves is key—even more so in a remote environment.  

“We try to send out daily communications to connect our VA community with resources that can help bridge the gap between us,” he said. 

The office serves approximately 150 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs, but since Lehman’s VA community also ties in alumni, Soltero-Rodriguez said it’s actually much larger.

“We have created an environment that assures VA students they are a part of the family, even after they have graduated,” he said.