SUNY ESC Announces New Graduate Certificate in Veterans' Services

By David Henahan, Director of Communications

December 7, 2011

Certificate program is a national model

Soldier Andrew DavisSUNY Empire State College now offers an online advanced graduate certificate in veterans' services.

Offered through the college’s School for Graduate Studies, the certificate program is designed to provide professionals with additional education and skills to meet the needs of veterans in accessing available social services such as health care, education, employment and housing.

 (Photo at left: Andrew Davis, a college student and currently director of the Saratoga County Veterans' Services Agency, in Afghanistan.)

“The effects veterans experience as a result of war are as old as human conflict and warfare itself. Today, the urgent need of veterans for skilled professional assistance arises as a result of the challenges they faced in service to the nation,” said President Alan Davis, announcing the certificate. “The college’s new graduate certificate program will enable professionals to help veterans to better cope with the challenges of reintegrating into their families and communities and with accessing available services.”

“Those of us in the field of veterans’ assistance are starving for nontraditional sources of training and education to better serve our diverse population of clients," said Saratoga County Veterans’ Service Agency Director Andrew Davis, a student at the college. “Assisting and advocating on behalf of veterans is a constantly evolving business. The training and certification of those in the field of veterans’ services must evolve as well and I am glad to see that Empire State College is addressing this critical need.”

“The mission of the School for Graduate Studies is to provide academically rigorous and contextually relevant master's degrees in fields benefiting the state of New York. This certificate is the embodiment of that mission,” said Dean of the School for Graduate Studies Robert Clougherty.

“Veterans' services agencies, community organizations and educational institutions need to work together to serve our transitioning veterans effectively,” said college Office of Veteran and Military Education Director and Council of College and Military Educators President Linda Frank. “Awareness of current policies, services and relevant issues is crucial to the ability of service providers to address the challenges our veterans face. Our graduate certificate in veterans’ services will provide training across the broad spectrum of transition components and challenges that confront veterans today.”

“Providing professional training in veteran services is a clear social and institutional imperative,” said Professor Elana Michelson, who developed the certificate program.

Soldier Ryan Smithson “Some veterans are able to move forward quickly, using the post-9/11 GI Bill and other programs to go on with their lives. Others face a more difficult transition as they try to manage the after-effects of war and personal dislocation. These veterans especially are in need of the skillful intervention of well-trained and highly skilled professionals.”

(Photo at right: Ryan Smithson, a college student and author of "Ghosts of War,"
in Iraq.)

Michelson’s work in developing the graduate certificate led to the college’s sponsorship, in conjunction with the New York State Museum and the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center, of recent Theater of War performances in Albany and Saratoga Springs, which featured Jesse Eisenberg, whose performance in the movie “The Social Network,” earned him a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination in the Best Actor category.

New York state is home to more than one million veterans. Currently, there is no national model for training in veterans’ services at the level of a graduate certificate. The college’s certificate program addresses a critical need in New York state and provides a national model.

The curriculum of the certificate in veterans’ services includes three 3-credit required courses, in addition to a fourth 3-credit elective to be selected depending on the needs and interests of the student. Opportunities for field work will be built into the courses as appropriate to particular student needs.

Credits earned through the graduate certificate can be applied to the Master of Arts in Social Policy degree.

The graduate certificate is available to those who hold a bachelor’s degree; specific information about the program is available online, by calling 800-847-3000, ext. 2791 or by emailing

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