Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Speaks About U.S. Strategy and Enhancing Support for Veterans

April 19, 2010Bookmark and Share

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, kicked off a year-long series of “Conversations with the Country” at Columbia’s World Leaders Forum on April 18. In his address, he emphasized both the proper strategic role of military power in U.S. foreign policy and the importance of investing in the nation’s military veterans through higher education, career opportunities and support services. 

“This is the beginning of an effort to connect with communities throughout the country about the challenges [the military and veterans] face to connect with America,” Mullen said during an hour-long conversation moderated by University President Lee C. Bollinger. “I believe that investment on the part of America and Columbia will be paid back tenfold over the course of the next decade.”    

Mullen noted Columbia University’s extensive effort to reach out to potential student veterans and build a supportive community of veterans on campus. Columbia has actively embraced the Yellow Ribbon Education Enhancement Program and now has more than 270 student veterans receiving tuition benefits. While there are veterans enrolled at most of the University’s graduate and professional schools, a majority attend Columbia’s School of General Studies, which was founded in 1947 largely in order to provide an Ivy League undergraduate education to World War Two veterans on the GI Bill. The school has since established itself as a unique collegiate experience for a wide range of nontraditional students.
The World Leaders Forum was part of a day on campus for Mullen and his wife Deborah that began with a visit to the University’s new memorial in Butler Library dedicated to Columbians who lost their lives in military service going back to the American Revolution. They were welcomed by a contingent of Columbia Military Veterans, who worked together with alumni and the Office of the Provost to develop plans for the war memorial. It was dedicated last year along with an interactive “Roll of Honor” website providing the historical background on each era and information about Columbians who died in wartime. 
Mullen then joined President Bollinger and Dean of the School of General Studies Peter Awn for a luncheon and conversation with a larger group of student veterans at Casa Italiana before the public forum, which was held in Alshtul Auditorium at the School of International and Public Affairs.
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