Students Who Serve Their Country Thrive Under DeSales University Veterans Support

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Veterans DeSales University
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At DeSales University, students who are Veterans and served their country are in good hands with Joann Haws, Director, Veterans and Military Services.

“I’ve been at DeSales for 30 years, assisting students and veterans after working my way up through the ranks here,” Joann shares.

Joann’s very first advisee was a Veteran, one who was balancing schoolwork, a family, and caring for his mother, who was suffering from breast cancer. “He amazed me, with all he did,” Joann states. “That first advisee always stuck with me, and I remembered all his hard work.”

Joann sees this dedication and strength each day within her university students. “The Veterans lounge is right next door to my office, and I make sure they have everything they need,” she says. “They can come to me for support, I encourage them to apply for additional financial aid and any other resources that help their education. They even can use some of their military careers for class credit.”

Stephan Gingras, MBA, PMP, and a recent graduate of DeSales University as well as a Veteran.
Stephan Gingras, MBA, PMP, and a recent graduate of DeSales University as well as a Veteran.

Stephan Gingras, MBA, PMP, a Souderton resident by way of Vermont, recently graduated from DeSales University with an MBA, Management Track. Stephan served with the 101st Airborne 3-187 Inf Reg Rakkasans (2000-2003), FT Campbell Kentucky, and Mountain Warfare School Vermont Army National Guard 2004. 

He looked to the DeSales Vets program during his tenure in the MBA program.

Stephan mentioned that Joann and the DSU Veterans Office were very helpful in assisting him with on-campus Vet resources and on how to use the remainder of his GI bill. “As a graduate student, I may have not used all of the resources from DeSales and Veterans but did find that they were helpful when I contacted them for any assistance,” he states.

“Around 7% of the US population are veterans and it’s nice to see the support for the soldiers but it seems to end when they leave service,” Stephan expresses. “I would hope as we go forward that these issues are recognized more and the veterans get the support they need.”

Stephan sees Veterans Day as a time to remember those who served and their sacrifices. 

“It can be hard to explain to others as a Veteran what I see as Veterans Day. I’m ok with non-veterans seeing it as a day to remember the living Veterans and thank them,” he says. “I have been able to deal with my PTS and become more open. I think the day should be a chance for Veterans to speak up for those that can’t.”

Joann has a long history with those who have served, such as Stephan, her father was one as well.

“Our veterans have been selfless, and it is so important to recognize that selflessness,” explains Joann. “We should never forget those who have given so much for our country or their families.”

We support them but sometimes we forget the importance of the veterans’ families. These families are dealing with home life, absences, and holding down the fort. Joann seeks to support these families as much as she can.

Joann says the biggest thing she notices with her veterans is the cohesiveness and camaraderie they share.  Recently, COVID took some of that away from the students, but Joann is ensuring that it is coming back to them and they are feeling better at the university.

“This has been a journey for me, and I will be here until the end of my career at DeSales University, assisting veterans and giving them all the resources we have,” Joann states.

On this Veteran’s Day, Joann honors her father and all the student veterans, current and graduated, at DeSales with a ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial Plaza.

Pennsylvania State Representative Milou Mackenzie will be in attendance and will speak about the impact of military service on the family.

John Kukitz ’81, an alum and Vietnam veteran, and Brian White ’22, an ROTC cadet and current president of DeSales’ Student Veterans Association (SVA), will also speak at the ceremony.

Read more about what DeSales University can do for you as a student Veteran.

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