As part of William & Mary’s deep and ongoing commitment to the military and veteran communities, the university welcomed Kathleen T. Jabs as the special assistant to the president of William & Mary for military and veteran affairs during Homecoming weekend in October.
Jabs will work closely with W&M President Katherine A. Rowe, the offices that comprise the W&M Veteran-to-Executive Transition (VET) program as well as all alumni groups, career partners, stakeholders and members of the William & Mary veteran and active-duty communities.
“We are thrilled to have Kathleen Jabs join the university community,” said Rowe. “Her years of experience serving veterans and active-duty military members and their families across our region, state and nation will be invaluable in this role. She is exactly the colleague we need to help increase awareness of all that the Alma Mater of the Nation is doing to support our military and veteran students, alumni and families.”
Jabs, a retired U.S. Navy Captain, previously served as deputy and acting secretary of veterans and defense affairs for the Commonwealth of Virginia, deputy director of management and public affairs officer for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, director of the Chief of Navy Information reserve unit and director of communication for U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia. She is a veteran, a military spouse and a military mother.
“William & Mary’s academic prestige, solid undergraduate and graduate curricula, rich history and tradition of service as well as our location in the region make our university unlike any other in the nation,” Jabs said. “At W&M, we have the chance to look back, look forward and look around, educating tomorrow’s leaders in this exciting and pivotal place while building on the work of those who have come before us. I am honored to be in this role as we look to that future and grow our programs in the years ahead.”
William & Mary lies at the center of a national security hub — from Hampton Roads to Washington, D.C., the region is home to major military commands from all service branches, including nearly 100,000 active-duty and more than 500,000 veteran personnel, the highest concentration on the East Coast.
To better serve these populations, the university established a cutting-edge Veteran-to-Executive Transition program (VET) with a gift from an anonymous alumna in 2020. W&M VET supports W&M’s veteran and active-duty students and helps those who serve our country transition successfully into the civilian workforce. The network comprising W&M VET includes the Center for Military Transition, the Whole of Government Center of Excellence, the Office of Student Veteran Engagement and the Center for Authentic Excellence. The work of the W&M VET program and the affiliated offices and centers align directly with goals laid forth in the university’s Vision 2026 strategic plan to both educate for impact and expand W&M’s reach.
Another key organization in the network of programs and resources for veterans and military is the Association of 1775 (Ao75), an affinity group for William & Mary alumni who have previously served or are actively serving across the U.S. government in both military and civilian roles. Ao75 is a critical way the university and the William & Mary Alumni Association engage with the broader W&M community of active-duty service members, civil servants and veterans.
Jabs’ first week was marked by the popular Ao75 breakfast during Homecoming & Reunion Weekend, and since then she has continued to engage with the W&M community at a variety of events honoring and celebrating veterans and active-duty students, alumni, parents, family and friends both on campus and across the state.
Other events included the tolling of the Wren bell and Veterans Day observances across the university, the military appreciation football game and tailgate on Nov. 12 and both the men’s and women’s basketball games against the U.S. Naval Academy and men’s basketball game against the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
The highlight was a reception in honor of Veterans Day held Nov. 10 in the National Museum of the United States Army at Fort Belvoir, co-hosted by W&M VET and the Association of 1775.
“The stories of our service men and women are such an important part of the history of our nation,” said Charles R. Bowery Jr. ’92, president of Ao75, retired U.S. army colonel and current executive director of military history for the U.S. Army. “Since 1775, the year the nation’s army was established, William & Mary and her alumni have been a part of an unbroken tradition of service. The future is so incredibly bright for the combined efforts of William & Mary, the Association of 1775 and the W&M VET program, and we will continue to collaborate across our university family to build networks between alumni and friends, support students entering public service and the military, and invest in the success of our student veterans in all walks of life.
“The present is possible thanks to so many in this community, but let’s not rest on our laurels. We need your continued, active engagement in these programs to ensure that we meet our students and alumni where they are and help them to get where they want to be. None of this is possible without the expertise, passion and Tribe Pride of you, our alumni.”
The program was a unique experience for the community to have exclusive access to the museum, network with fellow active-duty and veteran alumni and connect with W&M VET partners and stakeholders. It also allowed those in attendance to hear more about what W&M has been doing for veterans and active-duty students and alumni over the past several years and where the W&M VET program will be going in years to come.
In addition to Bowery, Special Assistant Jabs and President Rowe also delivered remarks. Executive Director of the Center for Military Transition at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business Jonathan “JD” Due hosted a panel discussion with W&M veteran alumni and students, Kord Basnight ’85, M.Ed. ’23, P ’13, Christian Chisolm ’18, M.B.A. ’24 and Maia Earl ’22, who were introduced in a video presentation highlighting the work of W&M VET.
William & Mary has a long history of supporting both veterans and active-duty members of the United States’ armed forces. In the last five years, the university’s capacity for providing resources, programs and network connections to the thousands of veterans in the W&M community has increased significantly thanks to philanthropic involvement, community engagement and motivated university administrators.
“William & Mary is proud of our strong coalition of active duty and veteran alumni and students,” Rowe shared with those in attendance. “Our programs rank among the nation’s most military-friendly thanks to exceptional resources across the entirety of our university. In the years to come, we strive for William & Mary to lead the nation in accelerating professional transitions to civilian life for veterans, expand the university’s student veteran population by creating scholarships and internship pathways and increase alumni engagement and career partnerships to support our alumni and their families.”
The W&M VET program seeks to augment additional offerings and services throughout W&M’s schools and departments. Jabs encouraged anyone who is interested in “learning more about what we are doing to support this community to come check us out — look for ways you can partner with us, learn about our transitioning veteran certificate courses, and establish scholarships and internships.”
“As I have looked across the Commonwealth,” Jabs reflected during the program, “William & Mary has incredible top tier programs in support of the MILVET community. In the years ahead, we want to amplify and grow those efforts so that we are, simply, the best at supporting those who have served our nation.”