Dan Sewell, vice president of SVA, called the organization's recent career fair the best its coordinated. (Photo by Marc Paulus)

SVA conference combats vet unemployment

Student Veterans of America was founded to help student veterans be as successful in the classroom as they were in their military careers. But academic success should be a segue to a career, which is why this year’s annual SVA conference was organized under the mantra of “Combating Veterans Unemployment.” A leader in the fight against veterans unemployment, The American Legion was in attendance at Rio Hotel and Convention Center in Las Vegas to network with SVA members from around the country and provide a viewpoint about a veteran unemployment problem that figures to worsen as conflicts overseas draw down.

The Legion provided counsel and maintained a booth at a career fair that SVA coordinated before its leadership elections and banquet. Representatives from the Legion were on hand to network with conference attendees and accept résumés for positions the Legion currently has open.

The Legion’s presence at the conference is a further extension of the relationship between the two organizations. Currently, SVA maintains an office in the Legion’s Washington headquarters. Working in such close proximation to SVA representatives allows the Legion to stay current on issues facing student veterans on college campuses.

“Student Veterans of America provides an invaluable asset to the Legion,” said Steve Gonzalez, assistant director of the Legion’s Economic Division. “SVA understands the unique needs that modern veterans face in transitioning into the classroom and civilian life. For the Legion to remain an advocate for the newest generation of veterans, it’s paramount the Legion maintains a strong relationship with the SVA and stands alongside the organization.”

More than 60 vendors had booths at the SVA job fair, including corporations such as Google, Amazon and Prudential. The majority of them weren’t just directing attendees to their websites for additional information, but they were accepting résumés and advertising jobs that were available.

Dan Sewell, vice president of SVA, called the job fair one of the best his organization has coordinated. He said events like the job fair and the SVA’s banquet not only give SVA members a chance to meet potential employers, but also provide them an invaluable opportunity to network with each other and discuss issues that are ubiquitous to student veterans at all college campuses.

“Networking over social media and those types of things is always good, but you can’t replace that face-to-face interaction,” Sewell said. “SVA brings student veterans to these conferences, and the student veterans all network and bring each others’ ideas back to their campuses. Ultimately, it’s dealing with the issues that student veterans face on an ad-hoc basis.”

In addition to maintaining a booth at the job fair, Legion membership staff were also on hand to present a $10,000 donation to SVA.

“Since its inception, The American Legion has been an advocate for veterans who are leaving the military and assimilating back into society,” said Scott Miller, assistant director of The American Legion Internal Affairs Division. “This commitment has not faded over time. By supporting the Student Veterans of America, the Legion can continue to provide grassroots support to our society’s newest generation of veterans, assisting them in their transition from service to education.”

Founded in 2008, SVA is a coalition of student veterans “chapters” that exist on college campuses throughout the country. Chapters coordinate activities for a school’s student veterans and aim to make academic life more comfortable for student veterans. The chapters work in coordination with SVA’s executive staff to connect student veterans nationwide and provide a pool of resources. The end result is the organization’s mission: to provide veterans with the resources, support and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and post-graduation.