Last month, the BBA’s Active Duty Military & Veterans Forum hosted a lunch for service members and veterans in the legal community, as well as attorneys currently working and volunteering with this population, to socialize, network and learn about the unique aspects of life for veterans and active duty military personnel who are college students.
Guest speaker Andy McCarty, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers (CAVS) at Northeastern University, spoke candidly about the path from the center’s inception to its actual opening on campus. McCarty is a Northeastern alumnus and a veteran himself, having served in the United States Air Force in Egypt and Qatar. Along with other staff members, McCarty sought to open CAVS to fulfill an unmet need on campus. Prior to CAVS, students with military involvement had to visit various offices and departments on campus to speak to staff about financial aid, housing benefits and other government programs designed to assist veteran students.
McCarty described CAVS as a “one stop shop” where students who have served or are serving in the military can access the resources they need. The CAVS staff is trained to understand the benefits available to these students from the government, and how best to apply them. They also help students navigate class registration and scheduling, balancing each student’s academic commitments with their commitment to the armed services. Their services are available to students pursuing both undergraduate and graduate degrees, including at Northeastern University’s School of Law.
By serving individual students and empowering them to get the most out of higher education, CAVS is designed to fulfill a broader mission. McCarty said the center’s ultimate purpose is to address the disproportionate unemployment rate among veterans.
“Our guiding philosophy is this: If we’re not preparing veteran students for a career after graduation, then what are we really giving them?” McCarty said.
To that end, CAVS also assists students with articulating their military experience in a resume, in a manner that relates to civilian jobs. From job interview coaching to emotional support, McCarty said CAVS offers a diverse array of services to veteran students and students on active duty, who may be having a hard time breaking into the job market or adapting to an office job once they are hired.
“It’s definitely a big adjustment to work in a civilian job,” McCarty said. “One thing we are always trying to do is open the lines of communication between veterans and non-veterans.”
At work, that means coaching employers on ways to bring up a veteran employee’s military service without putting the employee on the spot or making them feel uncomfortable. On campus, CAVS also works to integrate veterans into the overall community of Northeastern students.
After McCarty’s remarks, attendees had the chance to ask him questions and learn more about Northeastern’s work.
This luncheon was the first event for the Active Duty Military and Veterans Forum, which had previously organized as a committee within the BBA. Through its work, the Forum will spotlight the needs of active duty military personnel, reservists, and veterans within and outside of the legal profession.
To become involved in the Forum’s efforts, you’re invited to attend an upcoming pro bono training on Tuesday, May 22nd to learn the basics of representing veterans in discharge upgrade cases. If you’d like to receive more information on the training when it becomes available, please contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected].