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Northeastern launches first-of-its-kind veterans center focused on career preparation

Flags at Northeastern on Veterans Day

At a time when employment numbers for student veterans lag behind those of civilian peers, Northeastern University is launching the Center for Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers, which will offer a wealth of services and benefits, including mentorship opportunities and assistance with the transition to civilian life.

Student veterans at Northeastern benefit from the university’s experiential learning infrastructure through specialized co-op placements within a global network of 3,000 employers. Through this new center, they can also access tailored experiential learning programs and career resources that leverage their unique individual competencies and military experience.

We owe a great deal to our student veterans who have given so much in service to the nation. In honor and recognition of their contributions and sacrifices, we must provide student veterans with an experiential education that allows them to leverage their unique leadership skills for their future careers. Northeastern is the institution that can best prepare them for that next step.”
—Joseph E. Aoun, Northeastern University president

Despite a slowly improving unemployment rate, veterans nationwide consistently face greater barriers to employment than non-veterans. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, half of all veterans in the United States will face a period of unemployment after transitioning from military service—particularly younger veterans, with those aged 18-24 facing an unemployment rate double that of civilian peers. In a report by Prudential in conjunction with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 69 percent of veterans list finding a job as a civilian as their greatest challenge after service.

The center’s proactive focus on student veteran employability expands Northeastern’s pledge to honor and support the education and career advancement of returning service members.

“We owe a great deal to our student veterans who have given so much in service to the nation,” said Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun. “In honor and recognition of their contributions and sacrifices, we must provide student veterans with an experiential education that allows them to leverage their unique leadership skills for their future careers. Northeastern is the institution that can best prepare them for that next step.”

Northeastern has a proud, 100-year legacy of educating veterans and service members. The university ranks among the top 10 private, non-profit, research universities for enrolling post-9/11 G.I. Bill recipients. Northeastern also signed a first-of-its-kind agreement earlier this year to offer accelerated master’s degrees in homeland security to members of the National Guard.

New student veterans visit the university's Veterans Memorial

New student veterans visit the university’s Veterans Memorial during their orientation tour at Northeastern on Sept. 3, 2015. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University.

The university is building on its strong track record of educating and preparing student veterans for the future: Northeastern’s student veteran graduation rate is 82.6 percent, well above the national average of 51 percent. Through its Institute for Military Leadership in the Workforce, the new center will serve all aspects of veterans’ integration into academia and will link students to strategic partners in the private sector. Based in Boston, the center’s reach and impact will extend worldwide to veterans within Northeastern’s Global Network.

“Northeastern is proud of the priority we place on educating veterans,” said Philomena Mantella, senior vice president and CEO of the Northeastern University Global Network. “Our strong history of serving the military, our extensive suite of accessible professional programs, and the proximity to large military bases near our regional campuses position us as leaders in delivering experiential education to student veterans.”

In addition to announcing the new center, the university also announced the appointment of Andrew McCarty as director of the Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers. For over seven years, McCarty—a veteran himself—has been an advocate for student veterans on campus and advisor to the Student Veterans Organization, which has consistently been ranked as a top chapter by Student Veterans of America.

We now have more opportunities to explore different career paths, to learn how to better translate skills for the civilian job market, and to build relationships among the community.”
—Max Spahn, Student Veterans Organization president

There are some 600 student veterans currently receiving benefits and support at Northeastern, and McCarty expects that number to continue to grow in the wake of the opening of the center. The university’s commitment to veterans now totals some $4 million, including its assistance through the federal Yellow Ribbon Program, the support and operation of the new center, and the establishment of a new scholarship program to aid veterans with costs not otherwise provided for through the government’s benefits.

Additionally, Northeastern has more than 90 ongoing research projects funded by the Department of Defense, two Centers of Excellence funded by the Department of Homeland Security, and a $15 million state-of-the-art research institute that focuses on sensitive problems of national security. This past September, the university signed a $20 million cooperation agreement with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to continue conducting critical defense research.

“The opening of this new center gives student veterans at Northeastern a place to cultivate camaraderie and brotherhood, and also a structured environment in which to study and collaborate,” said Student Veterans Organization President Max Spahn. “We now have more opportunities to explore different career paths, to learn how to better translate skills for the civilian job market, and to build relationships among the community.”