DENTON (UNT), Texas — Student Veteran Services at the University of North Texas will receive a helping hand thanks to a historic gift. The Denton chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) — in partnership with their families — gifted the program with a $25,000 endowment.
“This is a special moment for us,” UNT President Neal Smatresk said. “We are so grateful for all you’ve done for us. Your generosity is amazing.”
Veterans of Foreign Wars is a nonprofit organization made of local chapters or “posts” that offer veterans and their families support services. The Phil Miller VFW Post 2205 is located in Denton. Family members of veterans are able to join auxiliary posts.
The endowment creates a $1,000 scholarship that will be given each year to a UNT student veteran. Half of the funds for the endowment come from VFW Post 2205 with the other half provided by the VFW Auxiliary Post 2205.
Student Veteran Services Director James Davenport said it’s the first endowment in the country that was gifted by an individual VFW Post to a Division I school.
“This endowment comes from the heart,” Davenport said. “The greatest thing about it is that this will serve students for years to come, long after I’m gone.”
Denton VFW Post 2205 Commander Tim Qualls shared Davenport’s excitement as the VFW and UNT plan to connect students and local VFW members with future events such as family nights and career fairs. He felt a special connection to UNT as his daughter is a recent graduate.
“This is a very big day for the post and auxiliary,” Qualls said. “We couldn’t be happier to be doing this with UNT.”
The endowment joins Student Veteran Services’ other scholarships, including the Emergency Scholarship Fund. The emergency fund can help students with university-related fees and more such as rent and car repairs.
UNT’s Student Veteran Services assists the more than 3,000 UNT student veterans and veteran dependents with enrollment and finances and helps them understand benefits. The office also provides a space to gather and meet others with similar experiences.
UNT has long been known as veteran friendly, earning top recognitions like being named a Purple Heart University and a Top Ten Military Friendly Tier One Research Institution.
Staff members in the office, including student workers, are primarily veterans or their dependents. Adriana Edwards, an integrative studies senior who worked in the office, said people don’t always know how the process works and made it her goal to provide them with direct answers.
"As a veteran dependent, I think it's important for someone to be there for veterans and their families,” she said. “to give direction for what comes next."