Military friendly programs again put Western in the national spotlight

Contact: Deanne Puca
Members of Western's ROTC train on campus

Western's ROTC program is one of several programs on campus that have led to national and statewide recognition for WMU as a military friendly institution.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University has recently been recognized nationally for its outstanding programs and support of veterans and military-connected students.

Resources including the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, a veterans lounge in Ellsworth Hall, U.S. Army and Air Force ROTC and Military Ally Program helped WMU rank ninth in the nation for Tier 2 Military Friendly research institutions.  The University is also continuing its Gold status from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) for the 2023-24 school year.

“Our goal in the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs is to provide mentorship, direction and motivation to military-connected students across campus throughout their entire university career. We aim to provide a solid foundation that these students can build upon to be successful in their education goals and continue to improve the experience here at WMU for veterans, those still serving and their families. Rankings like these, both local and national, help validate WMU as a school of choice for military-connected students as they transition from service to country into academia,” says Kenneth Franks, WMU’s military advocate.

He adds this is the first time in recent years Western has ranked in the top 10 as a Military Friendly School by VIQTORY, a national data-driven military marketing company, which considered retention, graduation, job placement, repayment, persistence and loan default rates for military-connected students and specifically student veterans.

More than 1,800 schools participated in the 2023-24 survey, and the list will be published in G.I. Jobs magazine’s October 2023 issue.

In addition, Western will continue to receive Gold status from the MVAA, making the University one of just 47 schools to achieve the highest designation given by the state government agency.  “We are incredibly grateful to have 62 Veteran-Friendly Schools in Michigan that are committed to supporting their student-veteran population,” says Adam Hollier, director of MVAA. “Making the transition from boots and a helmet to a cap and gown can be a daunting process, but having guidance and resources from their academic institution is a game-changer. Their talent and experiences matter, and the best way to thank a student veteran for their service is to support them in their journey and offer them a job after they graduate. I want to wish our student veterans the best as they start this next academic year and continue their educational journey.”


Launched on Veterans Day 2022, Western’s Military Ally Program now has 76 faculty and staff members who have completed the training, which provides knowledge about the resources required to be identified as a safe space for students who are currently serving and those who have previously served and their dependents.

Other programs of note, such as the annual 9/11 Silent Climb fundraiser, generates scholarships for veterans and dependents as well as funds an emergency relief fund for veterans and military-connected students. Franks says these programs make Western stand out, including to the nearly 640 military-connected students registered for the 2023 fall semester.

“When military-connected students are looking at colleges, they rely on these rankings to point them to a school that offers support so they can be successful. Taking all of these resources and the fact that they have been extremely successful into consideration, it helps with our recruitment, enrollment and retention.” 

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