The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 29, 2009

UPJ program reaches out to veterans

Pitt-Johnstown is expanding outreach efforts to military veterans through its new MountainCat Veterans Program.

The program was created to help veterans make a transition to college.

“We have tremendous respect and appreciation for our military veterans who have given so selflessly of themselves in defending our freedom,” university President Jem Spectar said in announcing the program.

“We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. Our MountainCat Veterans Program is one more way of saying ‘thank you’ to all of our military veterans.”

The MVP program is available to former members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard who had served on active duty and were discharged under conditions that were other than dishonorable.

A support group will be led by Alan Teich, interim vice president for academic affairs. The program also offers an accelerated admission review, priority registration and deferred tuition payments.

Under the accelerated admission review, a one-stop application process is available with the fee waived.

Students may enroll on a part-time or full-time basis and receive personalized academic advice.

Priority registration allows veterans to register before the general student population, offering the opportunity to register for popular classes first.

Tuition payments may be deferred until funding is received from the government. In addition, credits earned from previous course work – including through military service – will be evaluated to maximize the number of transfer credits.

Additionally, specially trained people will serve as primary points of contact for students.

MVP participants also will benefit from free parking, discounts on clothing, free tickets to the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center and an annual President’s Veterans Day Dinner.

In addition, the university’s staff has been involved with a program that provides combat-wounded veterans with an opportunity to acquire valuable employment resources as well as life-planning skills to assist with their re-entry to civilian life.

The staff also has a rap group, led by Robert Yaskanich, a Vietnam veteran and the university’s Personal Counseling Center director.

For further information, call the university at 269-2078 or visit