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New student-veteran peer-mentoring program established at Pitt-Greensburg

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg continues to expand the services and opportunities available to US military veterans and their dependents. This spring, the Hempfield Township campus established the position of a Vet2Vet Peer Mentor as part of its new student-veteran peer-mentoring program. This position was made possible through funding from a University of Pittsburgh Seed Grant.
The goal of the Vet2Vet Peer Mentor program is to connect with incoming student-veterans in order to help them navigate student life, identify challenges they may encounter, provide appropriate resources on and off-campus, and offer ongoing support toward academic success. The primary role of the Vet2Vet Peer mentor is to help incoming student-veterans make a smooth transition from the military to student life on campus.
“Life for a student-veteran often looks different from the traditional college student,” said Lisa Reffner, a US Air Force veteran who serves as Pitt-Greensburg’s certifying official for VA Educational Benefits. “There might be families, jobs, or other obligations. There also can be an age difference with student-veterans matriculating at an older age than a traditional college student. These are all reasons why we want to provide enhanced resources for how to navigate the campus, get involved in campus activities, where to go for resources—and provide authentic peer-to-peer interaction.”
Jacob Snyder, a history major with a minor in political science, will take on these responsibilities as Pitt-Greensburg’s first Vet2Vet Peer Mentor. He brings his experience as a 20-year veteran with the US Army to his role assisting other veterans here at Pitt-Greensburg. This spring, Snyder was selected as one of the first 48 student veterans to receive the 2020 Student Veteran Leadership Award by G.I. Jobs magazine. The award recognizes student veterans who are making a positive impact at their school and in their communities. He also was inducted into the campus chapters of SALUTE National Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society, and serves as vice president of the campus chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society.
Snyder’s career spans serving as a Military Police officer, to an instructor at the US Army’s Advanced Airborne School where he served as a jumpmaster instructor and team leader, to overseeing the safe and efficient training of more than 4,000 paratroopers as the US Army Alaska’s Airborne Operations NCO. Snyder’s deployment experience includes three combat tours in Afghanistan, one combat tour in Iraq, an operation peacekeeping deployment to Kosovo, and an assignment to Turkey. He is the recipient of numerous awards and decorations, including three Bronze Stars for meritorious service in combat, two Meritorious Service Medals, a Joint Service Commendation Medal, and three US Army Achievement medals. Snyder resides in Murrysville with his wife Sara and their five daughters.
“As an experienced, energetic student-veteran, Jacob will provide recurrent outreach with new undergraduate student veterans on Pitt-Greensburg’s campus in a variety of ways. These include email, social media, and virtual meetings, as well as via face-to-face meetings, and campus events,” said Reffner. “Communicating information about campus resources, providing encouragement and support, developing trust, providing appropriate referrals, and acting as a point of contact within the Military & Veterans Services regarding all sorts of topics that include but are not limited to: housing, academic advising, VA education benefits, tutoring, mental health counseling, career and major exploration, and so much more!”
“I hope to be able to provide a service to veterans, especially newly enrolled students,” said Snyder. “The transition from military member to a full-time student can be difficult, regardless of your experience and situation.  I feel that if I can be assistance to students in regard to classes, clubs, and resources, I will be providing a valuable asset to our veteran community. All students and veterans need help at one point or another, and I am here to provide that help and guidance.”
In addition to the peer mentoring, Snyder will also collaborate with the Pitt-Greensburg Veterans Action Team, in order to develop and improve programming for the student-veteran community at Pitt-Greensburg. This can include but is not limited to workshops, events, and marketing/communication that advocate for and support fellow student-veterans. The Vet2Vet Peer Mentor works with both the Veterans Action Team leadership and the various campus offices that they are assigned to, promoting awareness of the military and veterans services as well as issues that veterans face on campus and in the community.

Publication Date

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 13:00