By Scotty Schenck, photo editor

The new Center for Advancement of Veterans and Service members (CAVS), dedicated to helping student veterans find job placements, was announced by Northeastern University on Wednesday.

Philomena Mantella, senior vice president and CEO of Northeastern University Global Network, presented a plan for the development of the center during the Veterans Day service at the Egan Research Center. The goal of the center is to combat the increasing unemployment rate among veterans after leaving service.

“Our new center, CAVS for short, will take advantage of Northeastern’s global network of 3,000 employers, our No. 1 ranked career services office, career development and experiential learning to handle the problem of veteran employability,” Mantella said. “It will be our major focus.”

Director of Veteran and Military Services for Northeastern and former service member Andrew McCarty stood for applause during the ceremony when he was named director of the center.

“It’s a population near and dear to my heart, being a veteran,” he said. “The most significant challenge to veterans is employment. We felt that was a place that we could have a real significant impact.” 

McCarty served in the United States Air Force in Egypt and Qatar from 2000 to 2004. 

Sophomore electrical engineering major and veteran of the war in Afghanistan John McGuinness said McCarty is a shining example of how Northeastern treats its veterans.

“I’ve heard all the horror stories of GI Bill users from other schools and the early days. I’ve had to worry about nothing,” McGuinness said. “I don’t even have to go in and try to work on it myself. I just let them know there’s a problem and they take care of it.”

President Joseph E. Aoun said a recent $20 million grant from the Department of Defense demonstrates the trust between the university and the military.

“Universities are very uncomfortable in their relationships with the armed forces,” he said. “Universities want to take the money, take the grants but keep the commitment at an arm’s length. What’s special about this university, our university, about Northeastern, is that it’s extremely comfortable in its relationship.”

Mantella pointed out the numerous ways that Northeastern supports servicemembers. 

“We have over 600 veterans at Northeastern University today and 150 active duty military that are enrolled online. Northeastern is truly a global leader with our veterans and servicemembers,” Mantella said. “Over the last six years, our university has sponsored $2 million in scholarships through the Yellow Ribbon Program, the most generous commitment in the commonwealth by any institution.”

Universities participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program offer to pay the part of the tuition that the post-9/11 GI Bills will not cover, making it possible for many veterans to go to expensive private schools. Junior graphic design major Brian Fountaine, who lost both of his legs from an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Iraq War, said Northeastern’s participation in programs that help veterans is exceptional. 

 “They’re one of the few schools in the area that actually take very good care of their veterans … with the Yellow Ribbon funds and all that stuff,” he said. “The [Department of Veterans Affairs] screwed up my [tuition] paperwork and [Northeastern] said, ‘Don’t worry about it. We know you’re good for it.’ I was able to keep going in my studies. I’ve had friends who didn’t have that. This isn’t a cheap school to go to. To have them say something like that is pretty awesome.”

Photo by Scotty Schenck