North Texas Daily

UNT receives historic endowment for Student Veteran Services

UNT receives historic endowment for Student Veteran Services

UNT receives historic endowment for Student Veteran Services
September 10
12:00 2023

Student Veteran Services received a $30,000 endowment from the Denton Chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and will use the endowment to provide an annual $1,000 scholarship to one student veteran. 

Veterans of Foreign Wars is a nonprofit organization with several posts across the state that provide support services for veterans and their families, with the Phil Miller VFW Post 2205 being the local Denton chapter. Student Veterans Services serves 3,000 student veterans and veteran dependents, granting them access to emergency funds and offering a space for veterans to connect. 

“The endowment is a very clear signal of what we’re supposed to do as a community of veterans,” said Tim Middleton, VFW member and Denton resident. “For our community, supporting a student at UNT is the highest pinnacle of that. We are going to educate a student on our dime and make sure that there’s a future in this program. This scholarship will be here long after we’re all gone.” 

Student Veteran Services has two departments. One handles the certifications of the federal and state paperwork, ensuring that student veterans classes get paid for, while the other manages student affairs. James Davenport, Student Veteran Services Director and Denton resident, takes care of student affairs. 

“I take care of your fun and your problems,” Davenport said. “I manage the computer lab, and the break area. I throw lunches, events, tailgate and stuff like that so students have a place to meet and relax. I’m not a psychiatrist, if someone comes in and they are having a crisis, I direct them to psychiatrists. If somebody comes in and says they did not get paid by the [United States Department of Veterans Affairs], I have that emergency fund on my website.”

Davenport said out of the 289 VFW chapters in the state, the Denton chapter is the first to establish an endowment for a Division I school. He also said the scholarship has the potential to go nationwide in the future. He hopes that it inspires collaborations for future endowments for schools across the country. 

“Everybody’s going to try to out-do everybody,” Davenport said. “In this case, it’s a good thing for veterans.” 

The endowment was created out of a desire to help students and foster a relationship between Student Veteran Services and the Denton chapter of the VFW, Middleton said. Before collaborating on the endowment, Davenport, Middleton and Tim Qualls, VFW Post 2205 Commander and Denton resident, sat with Jessica Chapman, Director of Leadership Annual Giving and Denton resident, to discuss how they could best serve veterans in the community. 

“Jessica had an opportunity for us to help her out,” Middleton said. “The number one item that veterans need while they’re being taken care of at the VA hospital is socks, so we put out a box to collect brand new socks. It was just like a small trust building activity. Out of that came this relationship that we’re now building on, but it started just the four of us sitting around this table, talking about how we can help.” 

Chapman felt a personal mission to help serve the veteran community because her stepfather was retired military. Chapman works in the advancement division, handling the gift agreements between donors and the university. She said gift agreements start with conversations and building trust in a relationship. 

“Our family is very patriotic, we always want to serve,” Chapman said. “So when I met them, I thought, ‘Oh, this is my family, my people, how can I serve you?’ And they said, ‘How can we serve UNT?’’’ 

Student Veteran Services and VFW Post 2205 also collaborated to create campus events that students can benefit from. 

“In April, we did a student veterans appreciation night with the college,” Qualls said. “This past spring, we established a UNT and VFW night. This semester, once a month, we’re going to meet so that people come in and see what the VFW does.”

Along with the financial and communal benefits, such as networking events, access to funding and the VFW’s game center and pool, Edwardo Mendoza, student veteran and engineering junior, said Student Veteran Services provides a place for him to feel comfortable on campus. 

“The first semester I really wasn’t aware of what resources they had until I met another veteran and he brought me here,” Mendoza said. “I realized, ‘Oh, this is a place so you can actually be comfortable in.’” 

Qualls wants to raise awareness for all the resources available to student veterans. 

“We’re leaving money on the table every semester because people are not applying for it,” Qualls said. “They don’t know about it. That’s the problem. That’s our big push this year.” 

Students will be able to apply for the scholarship in the spring, and awards will be granted in the fall.

“To the people who receive the scholarship, I want to shake their hand, congratulate them,” Qualls said. “I’ll say, ‘Now do us proud and go get your education.’”

Featured Image: A sign hangs in the Student Veterans Office in Sage Hall on Aug. 31, 2023. Makayla Brown

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Christine Odwesso

Christine Odwesso

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