Saint Leo student-veterans and ROTC were well represented at the recent Student Veterans of America SVA) national conference held in San Antonio, TX.

Known as NatCon, it is the largest gathering of student-veterans in the United States, and it takes place annually during the first week in January. This year's conference was held January 4 – 6, and 2,000 people attended.

The theme was Defining Our Future. Sessions included:How Successful are Student-Veterans in Higher Education? Steps to a Successful Transition to Civilian Employment; From Boots to Boardroom: Breaking the Glass Ceiling;Civilian Life, Now What? Tactical Methods for Understanding Corporate America & Entering the Workforce; andStudent-Veterans as Effective Legislative Advocates, among the nearly 60 offered.

SVA supports students, funds scholarships, builds veterans centers, and helps military personnel transition to civilian life.

Saint Leo is the 1,000th SVA chapter, and SVA has 1,500 chapters throughout the country. Military spouses and those who are military affiliated can be members. 

The university's Office of Military Affairs and Services coordinates with education center directors and the campus student leadership of the SVA chapter to choose SVA and Omicron Delta Sigma National Veterans Fraternity members to attend the conference.

"The students give up part of their holiday break to attend, but they are able to gain insights on student-veteran initiatives and network with the veteran-friendly companies that hold a career and job fair at the conference," said Pamela Martis, associate vice president of the Office of Military Affairs and Services.

Saint Leo student-veterans who attended are: Eric Cox, president of Saint Leo's chapter; John Morgan; Xavier Shipman; Norman Widamen, vice president of Saint Leo SVA; William Riley; Jerrod Klein; Michael Carbonaro; Gregory Nobles, ROTC cadet; Dakarai Jennings of the Corpus Christi Education Center; Shelby Crowther, Corpus Christi; and Michael Michalak, who also attends at Corpus Christi. They were accompanied by Martis.

According to the national SVA, overall, student-veterans are successful and well exceed the national GPA across the board. They also graduate at higher rates than other students, SVA said.

Those who attended will share what they learned with the university community on Wednesday, February 21.  A time and location will be announced.

For information about Saint Leo's programs for student-veterans, go to