Military veterans who pursue college education may not look like traditional students arriving on campus after high-school graduation. They may be older with families, or have life experiences impacting their financial, social, and emotional well-being.
Those students have additional resources at Syracuse University thanks to a partnership with $5.8 billion asset Visions Federal Credit Union in Endicott, N.Y. Launched earlier this year during Syracuse’s Veteran and Military Connected Student Orientation, the Visions Student Veteran Success Program provides student veterans with academic resources and professional advancement services.
“Veterans might have taken a different path,” says Tim Strong, director of branding and public relations. He oversees Visions Cares, the credit union’s philanthropic and community engagement program.
“They’ve taken a different approach by deciding to go back to school,” he says. “That’s where we can come into play and ensure they're successful financially while they're in school and after graduation.”
Designed to help veterans succeed academically, professionally, and personally, the program offers access to tutoring, upskilling, financial readiness resources, and career transition services.
Visions Federal isn’t new to military-focused services. It launched the Visions Veterans Program, open to all veterans and their spouses, in 2018 to help veterans achieve their financial goals.
The partnership with Syracuse started this year, stemming from a chance meeting between Visions Federal President/CEO Tyrone Muse and Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud. When Muse asked how the credit union could serve the university, the veteran program topped the list.
Visions Federal’s values matched with the Syracuse Office of Veteran and Military Affairs, which demonstrates a commitment to serving both students and their families. The credit union kept that mindset front and center while building out the program’s financial readiness component.
“Financial education is an incredibly important component of our DNA,” Strong says. “And it’s not just financial readiness. We also want to look at the internship opportunities or potential hiring of veterans and their families. How can we help them be successful now and into the future?”
If a student veteran has a financial question, someone within Syracuse’s career services department refers them to Visions Federal’s financial wellness officer in the community. Student veterans like the credit union’s individualized approach, where someone sits down with them and listens to their needs, Strong says.
Visions Federal is launching the Financial Readiness Center, an interactive display that’s scheduled to be at the career services facility by the end of the year. It will be tailored to the Syracuse area and college experience while displaying financial education information, community calendars, relevant articles, and more.
“Some people may not be comfortable going to an office and sitting down with someone, but they don't mind interacting with a screen or playing a game,” Strong says. “We're working hand in hand with the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs on what's important for veterans to know. We can customize it, update it regularly, and make sure the information is relevant and vibrant.”
Once the credit union has veterans’ attention, they want to build lasting relationships that cater to their specific needs.
“These are people who’ve done a lot to make sure we can do what we do,” Strong says. “It's our way to show appreciation. It's also a great investment. It’s a group that’s highly focused and driven to succeed. If you invest in them, you'll see that return.”