John Bensend, an alumnus and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran from Prescott, has been named the university’s military education benefits coordinator. He also is a staff sergeant in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
Veteran Services, housed in Registration and Records, was established to assist veterans and active duty military in pursuing higher education.
Pamela Holsinger-Fuchs, executive director of Enrollment Services, said the creation of the position was in direct response to a survey given to veterans on campus indicating their top desires. “Out of that survey came this position, and we are thrilled that John has joined our staff. He can relate to the needs of the students he is serving due to his first-hand experience in the military and as an alumnus of UW-Stout.”
Bensend’s goals are to make the bureaucratic processes for veterans – often nontraditional students without financial backing – more efficient and to help them readjust to civilian and campus life.
“Because most of the vets are nontraditional students their ages and life experiences are different from the other students,” Bensend said.
He wants to help them navigate the educational system and deal with stress, he said.
Bensend has walked in both sets of shoes and understands the student and veteran experience. “I know the military jargon and how to fill out the forms,” he said.
“My goal is to help them in any capacity they need, not just to graduate, but to be successful in life,” Bensend said.
UW-Stout has 321 veteran students enrolled, including graduate and undergraduate students.
Bensend enlisted in 2006 and was deployed to Iraq in 2009. He graduated in August with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
The university has been named a national Military Friendly school the past four years. UW-Stout also has a veterans club.