November 11, 2014 Veterans Day

SIPA honors Veterans Day today! We have a number of military veterans in our student body and are proud to recognize their service today.

November 11th is a time to pause and thank our military veterans for the sacrifices they have made by serving our country in the defense of our freedom. I am proud to call myself a military veteran. I served my country for ten years and deployed twice to combat areas. My decision to separate from the military was for a myriad of reasons. It was the most difficult decision of my life, as I decided to leave a profession that I respected and brothers-in-arms whom were family. I decided to pursue an MPA at SIPA, in order to one day advise policy makers on security related topics. Like most of my fellow veterans, the transition to civilian life was extremely difficult. Fortunately for me, SIPA has an amazing veteran’s community in SIPAVets.

For any prospective applicants with a U.S. military background, we invite you to check out Columbia SIPA Veterans Association (CSVA)’s student organization page for information about the veteran community at SIPA.

Photo courtesy of the Columbia SIPA Veterans Association

Photo courtesy of the Columbia SIPA Veterans Association

These veteran students have become my new family. We are able to assist each other personally, academically, and professionally.

Personally, SIPAVets can advise new veterans on the on-campus and off-campus resources to best assist them with their needs; whether it be acquiring a basic housing allowance for NYC apartments, advising which is the best Veterans Affairs hospital for a particular ailment, to where to turn for certain Veteran educational benefits, organize a Tough Mudder team, or have that happy hour beer after a long week of studying. Academically, SIPAVets continue to have each other’s back. I’m not the best mathematically, but I always have a SIPAVet buddy make sure my econ or stats homework makes sense. Similarly, I would proofread their papers, since writing is more of a strength of mine. Professionally, the network of SIPAVets has been second to none. Former SIPAVets continually recruit other SIPAVets for full-time employment, as well as assist on workshops to make sure our military skills are captured on a civilian resume.

SIPAVets is an inclusive organization. We routinely hold forums for the general public to share our stories, as well as to educate the student body on veteran’s issues. The strength of the SIPA Veterans Organization was a main factor as to why I chose to attend Columbia. Any prospective students, who are currently active duty or are veterans, should feel free to call SIPA Admissions. There is always someone available who can assist them with questions about the admission procedures, as well as a Veteran on staff that can advise them on a myriad of Veterans issues; from active duty separation procedures to Veteran benefits processes. I want to end this blog by thanking my fellow veterans for their service. Happy Veterans Day to all!

Blog by Eric I. Medina, 2nd year SIPA student and U.S. military veteran