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C. L. Max Nikias, John Mork, Michael S. Groen and Edward P. Roski Jr. at USC’s annual dinner for veterans and members of USC’s Reserve Officer Training Corps / Photo by Steve Cohn

The USC community has a rich and distinguished history of supporting our nation’s armed forces, dating back to World War I, when we trained Army officers. During World War II, our university continued this support, hosting training programs for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. And in the years immediately following the war, we welcomed thousands of veterans to our campuses. To give you a sense of the scope: Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, USC’s total student enrollment stood at 6,000; in 1947, it quadrupled to 24,000, the vast majority of whom were former servicemen, all eager to take advantage of the GI Bill. This educational support was exactly what the Greatest Generation had earned.

USC is now showing this same dedication to the New Greatest Generation—those brave Americans who have returned to civilian life since our nation was attacked on 9/11. This is no small group. By 2017, our nation’s post-9/11 veterans will exceed 3 million people. But those Trojans who are stepping forward to support our veterans are also large in number, and to this esteemed community, USC recently welcomed philanthropists Steve and Alexandra Cohen.

The number of post-9/11 U.S. veterans will exceed 3 million by 2017.

Their exceptionally generous gift to our university—which totals nearly $16 million—establishes the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at USC, a dynamic collaboration between the USC School of Social Work and the Keck School of Medicine of USC. The clinic, which will provide free or low-cost outpatient mental health services to veterans and their family members, will be located right in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. For those who cannot come to the clinic, we will have a mobile unit and provide in-home visits, as well as offering the USC Telehealth platform. The services will be individually tailored, focusing primarily on post-9/11 veterans.

This visionary gift from the Cohens builds on a number of programs that are already thriving at USC. The university currently enrolls nearly 1,000 veterans and active duty service members, and among the top 25 private research universities, we stand at the fore in providing full scholarships through the Yellow Ribbon Program. Our USC Veterans Resource Center creates a home on campus for our student-veterans; here, they can receive a range of services, from academic advising to veteran-led discussion groups.

Our School of Social Work, meanwhile, has earned national recognition for its pioneering master’s degree in military social work—the only program of its kind offered by a civilian research university. The program enrolls more than 500 veterans. The school is also home to the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families, where research teams conducted the first comprehensive study of veterans in Los Angeles County. Their results are helping to create more effective services for veterans.

At our USC Marshall School of Business, more than 100 students have enrolled in the specialized master of business for veterans program, which focuses on developing leadership skills. And last August, USC welcomed the national Warrior-Scholar Project, a weeklong academic “boot camp” that prepares veterans for their return to an academic environment. About the program, one participant said: “I tell people—even though it sounds cheesy—it changed my life. It really did.”

This is our goal at USC. To change—and better—the lives of those brave service members who protected our nation, and who deserve our enduring gratitude and support.

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