Are you interested in becoming a part of SVA’s growing network? Establishing a chapter at your school connects you with thousands of student veterans across the country, and gives you access to tools and resources to better support fellow student veterans on your campus.
SVA is composed of chapters, meaning that individuals do not apply for membership with the national organization. Instead, groups of student veterans, or chapters, can register for SVA Chapter Membership once the group has:
- Established an official governing document.
- Established three points of contact- student veteran, group adviser, and chapter email.
- Been recognized by their institution as an official student organization on campus.
Below is some information to get you started on the path to establishing your own student veteran organization, and sustainable success. Once you’ve completed these steps you are ready to apply for SVA chapter membership!
Step 1: Understand the Mission
In order to establish a healthy organization, it is important to understand the key elements of creating a student veteran organization, and the best practices for running a chapter. SVA and Purdue University’s Military Family Research Institute co-created the Chapter Success Manual to serve as a guide for these initial steps. It contains step-by-step instructions on creating a business plan and chapter budget, as well as helpful advice from student veteran leaders nationwide.
Step 2: Connect with the Community
Chapters connect student veterans, administrators, community organizations, and other student groups. Connecting with these stakeholders will help you gauge interest and gain support for your cause. Tap into existing networks on campus to raise awareness of the student veteran experience and your group. Forming a healthy relationship with your school administration can also help you in the long run- chapters are required to present a group adviser, or staff administrator, as a point of contact in order to qualify for membership.
Step 3: Establish Your Network
SVA requires three points of contact for chapter membership: a student veteran contact, an administration contact, and a chapter email contact. The first two contacts, referred to as the “Chapter Leader” and the “Group Adviser,” are important personal connections to the national organization. The third contact is an email specific to your student organization and may be created through your institution’s email server, or a free email service provider.
Although SVA only requires these three contacts, we recommend organizing a roster or contact list for all of the organization’s members, as well as contacts in your campus and neighborhood communities who have expressed interest in supporting your cause. Creating these channels to facilitate your network will help streamline communications within your student veteran organization.
Also during this phase, the group should be applying for recognition as an official student organization on campus. Every institution is different, so connect with your Student Life Administration for specific details on how to complete this process.
Step 4: Set the Standard
To further streamline your organization’s activities, it is important to create a governing document, such as a constitution or set of bylaws. This is not only a prerequisite to becoming an official SVA chapter, but will also establish the structure within which your student veteran organization will function. The governing document should include information on the scope of your organization’s mission, as well as details on membership requirements and meeting frequency. Here is an excellent example of Student Veterans Association Chapter bylaws. The content of governing documents will vary by campus, but reviewing these bylaws will be useful in drafting your organization’s own unique document.
Step 5: Apply for SVA Membership
Your application will be reviewed by an SVA team member and you'll receive a decision within one to two business days. Upon approval, a welcome email will be sent to all three points of contact with some useful information about your membership, as well as additional resources.