For UCF, Military Bowl builds on many connections to US defense and veterans

UCF’s selection to participate in the Military Bowl aligns very well with a university recognized as the nation’s leading talent pipeline for defense industry students, a leader in military modeling and simulation partnerships, and innovative PTSD treatments which benefit veterans and military personnel nationwide.

UCF has a long history of welcoming and supporting student veterans – including more than 1,400 currently enrolled – and works with all branches of the military and defense industry.

The goal of the Office of Military and Veteran Student Success is to make the transition of veterans into civilian and academic life as smooth as possible.

The Office of Military and Veteran Student Success has served a growing number of student veterans since 2011. The resource center provides support and a sense of community for students, faculty and veterans on campus. Students use the room for study and homework, and it is also here that they receive guidance on the use and benefits of the GI math.

The UCF has received the Purple Heart University designation from the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The designation reflects a commitment to helping student veterans succeed from enrollment to employment, on-campus recognition of student veterans, efforts to preserve the stories of military veterans, and the innovative help that veterans offer through UCF RESTORES is provided.

UCF was also recognized as one of the top 10 online undergraduate programs for veterans by US News & World Report; one of the best colleges for veterans of College Facts; and “Military Friendly” by military-friendly schools.

Fueling the talent pipeline

Students who aspire to a career in defense will find an ideal home at UCF. You’ll learn from world-class faculty members and benefit from UCF’s strong ties to industry partners, as well as our Orlando location, which is a hub for leading employers in the modeling, simulation and training fields; optics and photonics; and technology.

For almost a decade Aviation Week Network ranked UCF as a top graduate provider for the aerospace and defense industry. UCF is also the second most popular supplier in the industry, behind Georgia Tech.

Lockheed Martin employs more UCF graduates nationally than graduates from any other university.

Locally, 27% of Lockheed Martin employees in Orlando are UCF graduates, as are 20% of Siemens employees.

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That year, UCF signed a partnership agreement with the emerging US Space Force to help the agency develop technology and an agile workforce. UCF also works with the National Security Innovation Network to provide students with real-world experiences in solving problems related to US national security challenges.

With strong computer science and engineering programs, UCF produces many of the best student cyber defense teams in the country, with frequent wins in college competitions sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, and others. Last month, teams from UCF took first and second place in the CyberForce competition, sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.

strengthening national security

At the Central Florida Research Park off campus, UCF scientists work alongside US Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps researchers to protect and prepare military personnel and help them work effectively in teams.

The U.S. Department of Defense awarded UCF $21.55 million for research projects in 2021-22, the second-highest funding source after the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Optics and photonics as well as engineering and computer science account for the largest share of this.

The UCF School of Modeling, Simulation and Training has also been working with military partners on the development of simulation platforms for almost 30 years. Some of the research projects designed to help keep military personnel well trained and ready focus on empowering technology, while others relate to helping teams work together more effectively. Partners include the Army, Navy, Air Force and Defense Health Agency, among others.

Innovative treatments are helping people with PTSD regain their lives

For the past decade, UCF RESTORES has provided post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment to active-duty military members, first responders and other trauma survivors and has helped transform the way PTSD is understood, diagnosed and treated. The American Psychiatric Association estimates that one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD during their lifetime.

UCF RESTORES has helped more than 1,400 active duty veterans and military members, first responders, survivors of mass casualties and sexual assault, and others to regain their lives with innovative treatments.

UCF RESTORES’ unique treatment approach—a combination of exposure therapy, new technologies, and individual and group therapy sessions—resulted in 76% of participants no longer meeting diagnostic criteria for PTSD after three weeks of intensive treatment. The program’s virtual reality treatments include scenarios that look like foreign war zones, and they also include realistic smells like gasoline and gunfire.

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Funding for UCF RESTORES included $19 million in grants from the US Department of Defense and support from the Florida Legislature. Most services provided at UCF for veterans and military personnel are free for participants, including hotel rooms for those traveling from out of town.

UCF RESTORES also treats active duty military personnel at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Virginia and Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia.

care for veterans

Every UCF medical student spends a portion of their education caring for military veterans — an experience they say helps them better understand and appreciate the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes.

During their third-year internships and fourth-year electives, medical students receive training in specialties such as surgery, internal medicine, neurology, and psychiatry at the Orlando VA Medical Center adjacent to the College of Medicine at Lake Nona and the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System at St. Petersburg, Fla.

“It’s been a really humbling experience to be able to share such interesting stories with veterinarians and veterinarians and to be able to give back to those who have done so much for our country,” said Gary Saloman, a third-year UCF medical student.

Opened in 2015, Orlando VA Medical Center is one of the largest VA hospitals in the country, serving the area’s 400,000 veterans.

It also houses the VA’s state-of-the-art SimLEARN National Simulation Center, where physicians can train with simulated robotic patients.

Students say they are particularly impressed by how willing veterans share their medical and life experiences to help learners become better doctors. dr Andrew Taitano, a surgeon at Orlando VA and an associate professor of surgery at the College of Medicine, says he’s not surprised.

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“It speaks to the character of the veterans,” says Taitano. “They enjoy the mentoring and want to help the students learn to help others in the future.”

Collecting Veteran Stories

Launched in the fall of 2010, the Community Veterans History Project honors American war veterans by giving them an opportunity to share their stories so future generations can better understand the realities of conflict. The project, led by UCF’s Department of History, collects, preserves and makes the experiences of Central Florida’s veterans available to the public digitally before they are forgotten.

The project, made up of history majors and veteran students, is a collaborative effort led by Barbara Gannon, an associate professor of history who is a veteran herself. She has trained and worked with students to interview veterans for more than a decade. More than 700 veterans have been interviewed so far, some of whom are now housed at the Library of Congress.

If you are a veteran living in Central Florida and would like to be interviewed about your time in the military, call 407-823-0242 or register here.

Preparing the next generation of military leaders

The UCF campus is home to two Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs that train students to become officers in the United States Armed Forces.

This year, UCF Air Force ROTC Detachment 159 celebrated 50 years of partnership with UCF.

Approximately 170 cadets are currently enrolled in the officer commission program, which is directed by nine active-duty cadre members. An estimated 1,500 UCF graduates have become lieutenants in the Air Force and Space Force through this Air Force UCF program.

The UCF Army ROTC Fighting Knight Battalion was formed on the university campus in 1986. There are currently 160 cadets enrolled and approximately 850 officers have been commissioned since the program began.

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