Private Reception Aids American Military Veterans

Hodges University recently held a private reception at Harris Bank in Naples to raise awareness about their program that seeks to aid returning military veterans. Founded in 2006, the American Military Veterans Education Fund (AMVEF) was established to help returning veterans cover the costs of their education. 

“Many veterans qualify for partial support through the GI Bill, while others have ‘maxed out’ their eligibility or exceeded time constraints,” said Dr. Lou Traina, Vice President of University Advancement at Hodges. “These heroes struggle not only to finish their education, but also to adjust to civilian life. Many of them interrupted their lives to serve our country and then returned to find that they could not make ends meet. This Fund helps veterans gain the higher education they seek and helps lead them into a solid, productive future.

“We see many veterans come to Hodges for our distinctive approach to teaching and learning,” said Traina. “They thrive on our academic model which combines traditional learning with real life experiences. This in vivo approach is the right fit for veterans who seek the right learning experience that is relevant to their world.”

"Our veterans have done so much, they deserve all the help and respect we can give them,” said Walter Schacht, Wealth Advisor at Harris Private Bank in Naples. “At Harris, we are pleased to be able to help welcome them back to their communities with the education and tools they so richly deserve."

Among the guests at the reception were current Hodges students who are former veterans, distinguished citizens of Naples, supporters of the Fund, and former American war heroes.  Joe Frazier, 26-year veteran of the Air Force and Hodges University graduate, is all too familiar with the uniqueness of the school. “I could not have transitioned to the private sector without the help I received from the University,” said Frazier. “The professional environment and dedicated faculty offer an educational experience that is ideally suited for veterans.” Frazier, who currently works for Collier County Emergency Management, is also a member of the AMVEF cabinet.

Among the highlights of the evening came when Naples resident Peter Thomas, an Army veteran and Oscar-winning narrator of several television shows and documentaries, interviewed some of the veteran students present at the event. “I’ve talked to many of our returning veterans,” said Thomas, “and they’ve got a real burden. When I recently went to one of our reunions, I saw some of our wounded soldiers from Iraq, many with prostheses for arms and legs and other needs, and that was the reason I got involved in helping these vets through this Fund.”

To date, the program has raised over one million dollars in endowed funds, with a goal of raising five million dollars, allowing the University to provide dozens of scholarships to returning veterans. For more information, contact Dr. Lou Traina at (239) 513-1122.

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