After touring campus to learn about the university’s programs and facilities for military and veteran students, Robert McDonald, U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs, discussed the department’s healthcare goals and how a medical partnership between students and veterans services can fit into the future of Ohio State.
In a presentation in Drinko Hall on Wednesday, McDonald emphasized the need to strengthen Veterans Affairs’ relationship with the veteran and military students at OSU. He further discussed these goals in an interview with The Lantern following the speech.
“We have a medical affiliation between the Veterans Affairs department and the Ohio State University (Wexner) Medical Center and we would like to strengthen that affiliation over time,” he said.
McDonald said he was able to speak to doctors and the Wexner Medical Center Board of Trustees at the medical center about the current services OSU is able to provide to students who have served or are serving in the military.
“We are eager to strengthen that relationship in order to place research here, get some innovation here, as well as to learn from those doctors and have those doctors provide care for our veterans in areas that we may not be able to supply locally,” he said.
According a university press release, there are “currently over 2,200 veterans and family members receiving benefits who are studying at Ohio State.” OSU also offers services through the Office of Military and Veterans Services, which provides academic resources such as orientations, counseling and other support services.
According to U.S. News & World Report, OSU is currently ranked fifth in the nation as one of the “Best Colleges for Veterans” for 2015.
McDonald said he is happy and “supportive of the efforts” OSU makes to provide benefits for their veterans, adding that he thinks more effort should go toward “making veterans aware of the benefits they have earned through their military service.”
“That is why the role that the Ohio State veterans office plays is so critical because they can contact veterans in a much more personal way and much more intimate way than we ever could from the federal government,” he said.