Student Veterans of America (SVA) celebrated 10 years of supporting and empowering student veterans at its annual National Conference (NatCon2018), held January 4 – 6 in San Antonio, Texas by announcing it had reached a total of 1,500 chapters in all 50 states and four countries, representing nearly 700,000 of the 1.1 million veterans in college. SVA President and CEO Jared Lyon announced the new milestone at the annual State of SVA address, during which he thanked the chapter members who supplied grassroots support to help SVA pass the historic Forever GI Bill in 2017.
“We for the first time as a nation have a GI Bill that is not just a cost of war but a right of service. Education is a right a service. Until recently, a new GI Bill was cut after every war. Now the GI Bill is forever, a benefit for all future generations of veterans to come,” said Lyon during the speech.
NatCon2018 enjoyed 2,000 attendees from across the country. Attendees heard from general sessions speakers U.S. Army General (ret.) George Casey, Jr., Bob McDonald, former Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Brian Duffy, Adjutant General of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Catherine Verhoff, Chief Diversity Officer at PGIM, the Global Investment Management Businesses of Prudential Financial, Inc., Diana Rau, co-founder of Veterati, and Daniel Savage, head of veterans programs at LinkedIn.
Student veterans learned how to better support their chapters and prepare for their future careers during nearly 60 breakout sessions. NatCon2018 attendees also networked across the most diverse collection of non-profit organizations, private companies, and institutions of higher education under one roof. SVA Campus featured nearly 100 exhibitors, including some of the largest companies in America such as Apple, Disney, Google, NBCUniversal, Raytheon, Booz Allen Hamilton, Prudential, and Amazon.
SVA honored distinguished student veterans and supporters during the SVA Honors Awards banquet, which was hosted for the second consecutive year by Jamie Gray Hyder, an actress and outspoken supporter of the veteran community. Each year, SVA selects ten finalists for Student Veteran of the Year; an award that recognizes leaders who have demonstrated selfless service to their chapter, school, and fellow student veterans. At this year’s banquet, the top honor went to Air Force veteran and Queens University of Charlotte student Chris Rolph. Rolph served for five years as a C130J Loadmaster in Ramstein, Germany before returning to the United States to pursue his education while serving in the Charlotte U.S. Air Force National Guard. After leaving the Air Force, Rolph began his studies at Queens University of Charlotte and is currently the President of his SVA Chapter.
NatCon2019 will take place January 3-5, 2019 at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.