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UW-W employee honored for work with vets

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Kayla Bunge
November 19, 2009
— Jan Nordin helps veterans and active-duty soldiers because she respects the sacrifices they have made for their country, she said.

The veterans coordinator at UW-Whitewater recently was honored with the Patriot Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an organization of the Department of Defense. It is the second time she has received the award.


“It’s humbling, really,” she said. “I was quite surprised. I wasn’t expecting to receive it.”


Nordin, who has been at the university for more than 10 years, struggled to find words to describe her feelings about being nominated for and receiving the prestigious award.


She was given the award during a ceremony last week. Retired Col. Mike Williams, who presented the award, said it’s “unusual” for a person to receive the award twice, but the repeated honor represents what Nordin “brings to the table” in supporting students serving in the National Guard and Reserve.


Army Sgt. Brian Butzler of Beloit, who works as a student assistant in the Registrar’s Office, which administers veterans benefits at the university, nominated Nordin for the award.


“(She) has a great heart in helping all veterans who come to UW-Whitewater,” he wrote on his nomination form. “She is willing to take as much time and energy necessary to make sure all veterans are well taken care of … ”


Nordin said those words—straight from the heart of a student veteran—have touched her in a way that is hard to describe.


“His words in the nomination letter have meant more to me than the award,” she said. “It means so much more to come from the veterans themselves.”


Nordin has been working with veterans and their families, helping them get the educational benefits to which they are entitled under the federal and state GI bills, for about 20 years, first at UW-Eau Claire and then at UW-Whitewater.


“Over the years, I’ve really come to enjoy and respect working with the veterans,” she said. “They’re such nice people. And they’re grateful … because for a lot of them, it’s a way for them to get an education.”


Nordin not only works hard to keep student veterans informed of benefits and other resources, she also has helped get two policies in place at the university to help student veterans called up for active duty or called for short-term military service.


One policy allows students called up for active duty to quickly and easily tie up loose ends—withdrawing from classes, terminating housing contracts and exiting meal plans—before being deployed.


Another policy allows students to take up to two weeks of military leave without being penalized for missing school.


Nordin said those policies have been instrumental in making UW-Whitewater a campus that is friendly to veterans and active-duty soldiers.



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