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The Transition Assistance Guidance and Support (TAGS) program is designed to connect prospective and incoming student veterans to peer contacts within the GW Military, veteran and family communities. The peer to peer network is a key component to academic success. For student veterans there can be a feeling of overwhelming isolation from the more traditional student. Family members and Active Duty personnel may feel more like they are going through the motions rather than truly getting engaged with the college environment.
TAGS Program Description
The TAGS program is a peer-to-peer support advisor/ mentoring program that will establish connections academically and socially for Military Personnel, student veterans, family members and dependents. It is designed to help identify the challenges our VALOR Students face. Through the TAGS program institutional and external resources will be sought and utilized to meet those challenges. The TAGS program will do the following:
- Help with transition for first year and transfer VALOR students
- Establish networks and connections for all VALOR Students
- Provide a primary POC ( point of contact) to discuss issues and concerns as well as navigate the Military Education benefits process
- Host academic and social events to help maintain and improve academic and retention rates
- Provide a POC to help with career/ internship mentoring opportunities
- Provide a POC to navigate through the graduation process
Peer Advisors/Peer Mentors (Rucksacks to Backpacks)
Through the TAGS program, the establishment of Peer Advisors and Peer Mentors will be the initial contact for new and returning students. The roles of the Peer Advisor and the Peer Mentor are different from one another; however will complement each other’s roles.
While in the Military every new service-member has a primary POC when they arrive at a duty assignment. This POC is the first mentor they have and helps guide them through all initial processes that are required. The university environment is no different in that initial process and can be challenging and taxing. The TAGS program offers the same POC through a Peer Mentor. Peer Mentors are current Student Veterans, Military Personnel or Dependents who are familiar with all initial processes to starting an academic career. The primary role of the Peer Mentor is:
- Guide prospective students through the admissions process and individual campus tour scheduling.
- Navigate through the process of the Military Education benefits paperwork and OVSS resources
- Create/participate and facilitate low level programmatic events promoting networking and social integration
- Maintain a communication/ referral log, called a Rally Point Log, to better track needs of our VALOR students
- Take part in quarterly focus groups and/ or surveys to evaluate the TAGS program
Once the Peer Mentor has guided the new student through the initial process, they are partnered up with a Peer Advisor. The Peer Advisor becomes the new POC for the remainder of the semester. The Peer Advisor will ensure the new student is adjusting to campus and academic life. Peer Advisors will be recruited from the individual colleges and maintain communication with the students. Peer Advisors will have the following duties:
- Establish benchmark dates to meet or communicate with new students throughout their first academic year
- Create/ participate in low level academic networking events that meet the needs of VALOR students
- Maintain a communication/ referral log, called a Rally Point Log, to better track the needs of our VALOR Students
- Take part in quarterly focus groups and or surveys to evaluate the TAGS program
Peer Advisors/Peer Mentors (Backpacks to Briefcase)
Each Peer Advisor/Peer Mentor will be also work with Military and Veteran Career Services. By partnering up with this office, where the Rucksacks to Backpacks portion of the TAGS program will focus on the time within the institution, the Backpacks to Briefcase portion will focus on the exit strategy for all Military Personnel, student veterans, dependents and families. The roles of the Peer Advisors/Peer Mentors will be as follows:
- Work with Military and Veteran Career Services to ensure students are aware of services provided
- Help establish a “Needs Worksheet” for the student to have a tangible next steps in their career progression
- Educational Funding
TAGS Application Process
The Office of VALOR Student Services utilizes the VA Work-Study program to provide employment for VALOR students. Through this program, the OMVSS will specifically recruit VALOR Students to fulfill the roles of Peer Advisor and Peer Mentor with a minimum of one full academic year commitment to the program.
Interested in becoming a Peer Mentor or Peer Advisor? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information!