view of main quad on Illinois campus in fall

Why Illinois?

The Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education provides one point of contact for accessing comprehensive services that are individually tailored to the needs of each student. In addition to cutting-edge programs, the Center is a great place to meet other veterans, study, and obtain services that support your academic success and career goals. Here are some other reasons to consider Illinois.

Your Degree Will Be Respected

statue of the Illinois Alma Mater

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a highly ranked university that offers comprehensive undergraduate, graduate, and professional educational programs that are respected by employers.

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Student Success

  1. 70 of America’s Fortune 100 companies (including 8 of the top 10) recruited on campus last year
  2. 6,748 Companies recruited on campus in the 2011-2012 academic year
  3. 16,211 Student interviews were conducted on campus
  4. In 2012-2013, one-third of our undergraduate veterans were named to the Dean’s List
legless runner
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World-class Programs and Services for People with Disabilities

  1. #1 Rated as the most “disability-friendly” U.S. campus
  2. First to provide students with disabilities access to all university services, curricula, and facilities; developed first architectural accessibility standards; designed & instituted a wheelchair-accessible bus system; first to offer comprehensive wheelchair sports programming.
  3. Developed the first transitional living program for students with physical disabilities needing personal assistant support services. Students with physical disabilities who require personal assistant support services have an 87% graduation rate; nearly 60% obtain employment within a year of graduation, while another 32% enroll in graduate or professional schools.
veterans sitting in the lounge area of the center
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A History of Serving Veterans

This is part of our legacy

1955 photo of guys using wheelchair lift on a bus

We are a University with a proud military history. Chartered as the Illinois Industrial University, the University opened in 1868. Renamed the University of Illinois in 1885, it is one of the original 37 public land-grant institutions created after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862.

In 1944, a bill was passed that provided a variety of financial benefits to returning veterans of World War II. The G.I. Bill, as it was known, included cash payments of tuition and living expenses that would allow veterans to attend college. At the time, conventional wisdom held that people with disabilities could not lead normal lives or be gainfully employed. What would be the point, therefore, of sending them to college?

Dr. Timothy Nugent did not accept conventional thinking. He believed people who used wheelchairs could succeed academically if physical barriers that prevented them form accessing campus buildings were removed. As a result of his vision, passion, and perseverance, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign became the first post-secondary institution to offer a program of support services to students with disabilities, the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES), the service unit of the College of Applied Health Sciences.

Pioneering Achievements

Under Dr. Nugent’s leadership, the University achieved a number of significant “firsts” in serving people with disabilities:

  1. The first curb cuts at a post-secondary institution
  2. The first fixed-route buses with wheelchair lifts
  3. The first college-level adapted sports and recreation program
  4. The first study abroad program for students with disabilities
  5. The first and still the only residential program to serve students with severe disabilities who require assistance in performing daily living tasks
  6. The first state-of-the-art residence hall integrating students with and without disabilities in a unique living-learning community

In addition, seminal research at the University of Illinois led to the development of the first architectural accessibility standards that were later adopted by the American National Standards Institute.

Take a look at the 2nd annual Veterans exhibit at the UIUC Library. View at

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A Thriving Veterans Community on Campus

  1. Over 400 veterans on campus. We have a thriving group of veterans on campus that look out for each other. Our veterans are an excellent resource for making peer connections and learning strategies to maximize your success on campus. Interested new veterans can also be paired-up to a seasoned student veteran through our Vet Connect mentoring program.
  2. An active Student Veterans of America Chapter. The Illini Veterans are the student veteran voice on campus. This fast-growing chapter has over 150 active members who are engaged in a wide array of social and philanthropic activities.
  3. Student Veterans Lounge. Located in our popular Illini Union, the Student Veterans Lounge is a great place to study, interact with other veterans, or simply hang out and watch TV.
  4. Designated as a GI Jobs “Military-Friendly” school for the past four years in a row and as a Military Advanced Education Top College for 2015 and a Military Times Best for Vets College.
  5. An innovative first-year course for veterans. To assist with your transition to campus, an innovative first-year course for veterans is available. The course provides a welcoming environment where you will learn about assistive resources and engage in reflective reading and writing assignments with other veterans. This is an excellent way to start off your college career.
Crowd of about 20 veterans at the Illinois-Iowa football game male and female veterans chatting in kitchen of the center
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A Paralympic Training Site

wheelchair racers at paralympics

On September 26, 2014, The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly in Chicago announced that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been designated an official U.S. Paralympic Training Site. The University of Illinois wheelchair program has turned out such outstanding Paralympic athletes as Sharon Hedrick, Jean Driscoll, and Shawn Meredith. At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, athletes from the University of Illinois accounted for 10 of the 28 total U.S. track & field medals won. University of Illinois graduate Tatyana McFadden won three gold medals and one bronze medal, and University of Illinois junior Raymond Martin won four gold medals.

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