Today’s U.S. military is one comprised completely of volunteers. Men and women who willingly choose to serve their country and dedicate much of their lives to protect the rights and freedoms of it. They are the heart and soul of the U.S. However, when it comes time for their service to end and return to the civilian world they’re often overlooked, especially veterans who attempt to acquire a college degree.
At the University of San Diego, retired U.S. Navy Captain Tim McCandless, who arrived this year to fill a newly created role as veteran student services coordinator, said he wants to make sure that no veteran student is lost in the shuffle and that they’re aware of all services USD can provide.
“Veterans have incredibly unique experiences,” said McCandless, “and this, at times, can attribute to the challenges that veterans have in becoming acculturated within a college environment.”
Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen serve in harm’s way and often return from duty having experienced things that most civilians cannot even imagine. McCandless said he believes “veterans deserve our very best” when it comes to providing quality service, resources and support to acquire a college degree.
Before arriving at USD, McCandless served in the U.S. Navy for 30 years as a surface warfare officer. He served in numerous leadership positions aboard both U.S. Navy ships and domestic and international bases. Prior to retirement, he spent two years as a professor of leadership studies at the National Defense University. From 2010-12, he was an instructor at the Joint Military Attaché School, part of the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C.
In his new role, McCandless is dedicated to providing every veteran who attends USD with the information and support needed to successfully integrate with the USD community and, ultimately, acquire a degree. McCandless is also working with USD administration to strengthen and build on the support already provided to veteran students.
One vital part of his assistance is providing the necessary information to understand and use the benefits afforded to them through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The bill provides eligible veterans with 36 months of educational benefits that can be used by either the veteran or his dependents. It can be a difficult task to graduate with a degree in only three years, especially if a family member has already used some of the allotted time and McCandless believes it would be a great help if veteran students were given priority registration.
The addition of McCandless to the university is “critical,” according to Steve Schissler, director of USD’s One Stop Student Center, which is located in Hahn University Center, Room 126.
“The population of veteran students and/or dependents has tripled in the last three years due to increased benefits from the Veterans Administration,” Schissler said. “His position will be the first place a veteran student goes to find out what needs to be done to take care of the business of being a student.”
While McCandless works within the One Stop Student Center, his office is located outside of it, in UC 116, next to USD’s commuter student lounge. And, although he’s new to USD, McCandless has spent some time in San Diego during his military career.
McCandless is a graduate of the University of Vermont, the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and the Royal Naval Staff College in Greenwich, London. He has a BA in Geography and an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. He looks forward to his new role at USD and building relationships on campus that help student veterans thrive.
The USD community would not be the incredible place it is today if not for the sacrifices of veterans. Therefore, it is crucial for USD, as a whole, to provide veterans who decide to join our campus community with the same support they’ve provided to us. McCandless is among those at the forefront and truly wants to make sure that no veteran students are overlooked.
— Ryan Garney ‘13