What are military connected students looking for in a veteran friendly institution? How is a veterans understanding of the world different than a traditional student entering from high school? Is it important to create spaces on campus just for veterans or should we be looking to integrate them in to the larger student population? What are the best ways to support veterans with PTSD and other mental health issues?

On this episode of Student Affairs Live, host Tony Doody talks with Col. (ret) Stephen Abel, Bryan Adams, and ACE (American Council on Education) Director of Veteran Programs’ Tanya Ang, to answer these questions and more.

Please contribute to the conversation by emailing questions before the show to tony@higheredlive.com or by tweeting live during the show using the #higheredlive hashtag. We’ll do our best to incorporate questions from viewers (with attribution) into the live conversation.


Episode Host

Tony Doody

Tony Doody

Tony Doody has over 24 years of practical experience and oversight in senior leadership positions within the Higher Education industry in the areas of Facilities Management, New Student Orientation, Parent and Family Programs, Leadership and Training, Marketing and Communications, Adult Learning, and Major Events and Programs. He currently serves as the Senior Director of Student Engagement at Rutgers University. Over the last 4 years, Tony has presented at over twenty universities and national conferences on topics of innovation, digital leadership, technology, and unconventional leadership. He is the recent Innovation chair for the ACPA 2014 conference, serves on the ACPA Credentialing team, and is co-chair of the ACPA Presidential Task Force on Technology. In addition, Tony has worked over 20 years as a consultant in the areas of executive coaching, leadership development, presentation skills, risk-taking, innovation, social media, conflict resolution, and team cohesiveness. Past clients include J&J, Bristol Myers Squibb, Vistakon, Navigant, Janssen, United Way, Merrill Lynch, Tumi, and Aventis Pharmaceuticals.


Stephen G. Abel

Stephen G. Abel was appointed the Rutgers University, Director for Veteran and Military Programs and Services on July 1, 2010.  He has the lead responsibility for the development and coordination of a comprehensive program of support services for veteran, military and dependent students at all three campuses of the University. The Director serves as the principle advocate for student veterans, military and dependents as well as ensures the quality of policies, programs activities and services designed to enhance their educational experiences. The Director also serves as the University’s liaison with outside agencies and offices, at the state and federal levels, whose work impacts the lives of veterans, military and their family members. Prior to joining the Student Affairs Team at Rutgers, Colonel Abel was the New Jersey Deputy Commissioner for Veterans Affairs. In this capacity, Commissioner Abel was responsible for administering all of New Jersey’s veterans programs.  Colonel Abel’s 27 year military career with the United States Army took him across the country and around the world from Fort Riley, Kansas, to Korea, Hawaii, and back home again to the States.  He has a BS in Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a MS in National Security Strategy from the National Defense University/National War College in Washington, D.C. He is a contributing author for Called to Serve: A Handbook on Veterans and Higher Education and a coordinating producer of the feature documentary: The War After.


Tanya Ang

Tanya Ang is the Director of Veterans’ Programs at the American Council on Education. In this role, Tanya oversees ACE veterans initiatives such as the Toolkit for Veteran Friendly Institutions. She also works collaboratively with institutions of higher education and other organizations to disseminate and promote best practices in serving military and student veterans on campus. Prior to her role in Veterans’ Programs, Tanya served as a Senior Program Manager in ACE’s Military Programs working with evaluation teams to provide credit recommendations on service member’s military transcripts.

Tanya has worked in higher education for over 13 years in a variety of roles including Administrative Analyst for the Vice President of Student Affairs Office at California State University, Fullerton and Associate Registrar at Vanguard University where the majority of her work focused on the non-traditional student including military and student veterans. She was the certifying official at her institution for student veteran GI Bill benefits and worked hand-in-hand with the various offices on-campus to ensure students received the benefits and the support they needed to successfully navigate their academic career.


Bryan Adams

Bryan’s mental health story began in Tikrit, Iraq in 2008 when he was shot during an ambush while on patrol. Bryan came back to the U.S. to pursue his college degree as a recipient of a Purple Heart, but nothing could prepare him for how rough the transition would be to campus life and his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Today, Bryan shares his moving story of trauma, stigma, and alcohol abuse with active military, veterans, and civilians alike to reinforce the importance of seeking help. A tireless advocate for veterans rights, Bryan seeks to empower others, and when they cannot speak up for themselves, he hopes that by sharing his story he can speak up for them. Bryan graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and an impressive résumé of work with Active Minds, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and Student Veterans of America (SVA). Bryan is currently the Veteran Services Coordinator in the Rutgers University Office of Veteran and Military Programs and Services. In that capacity, Bryan is the main point-of-contact for veteran, military, and eligible family members in navigating services within Rutgers University as well as prospective students. In his free time, Bryan enjoys gardening and grows a variety of fruits and vegetables, which he enjoys cooking and canning. He finds the entire process brings him peace and fosters unity with nature.