Portland colleges are on a mission: to recruit more military veterans

PSU creates special center for former service members

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PORTLAND (AP) -- Colleges in Portland are among higher learning institutions gearing up to better accommodate a growing population of veterans.

The American Council on Education recently released a report that surveyed 690 public and private institutions nationwide and found that 62 percent of them provided services for veterans. That's an increase from 57 percent in 2009.

Four years after Congress passed the G.I. Bill, more than 500,000 veterans and family members are using the benefits from the legislation providing full scholarships for veterans wanting to pursue degrees.

Meg Mitcham, director of veteran's programs for the American Council on Education, says its survey found that 71 percent of schools identified expanding veteran resources as part of their long-term planning.

Colleges in Portland exemplify how schools are focusing on keeping pace with the changes.

At Portland State University, more than 1,000 veterans enrolled for this fall. Officials say it's a number that has increased rapidly in recent years.

A fourth-floor office on the campus is being transformed into the new Veterans Resource Center and will include counseling services, a lounge area and an administrative area.

"It's not much now, but come back in a few weeks," said Dave Christensen, vice president of program development for Viking Vets, the PSU student veteran association.

At Portland Community College, more than 1,400 veterans will be enrolled in the fall semester.