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VA NY Harbor Healthcare System


Veterans Integration To Academic Leadership (VITAL)

What is VITAL?

Veterans Integration To Academic Leadership is VA’s approach to reaching out to student Veterans to help facilitate the transition from Soldier to student.

The VITAL Initiative is a partnership between VA New York Harbor Healthcare System and local colleges and universities. We’re here to help you navigate your needs and concerns and maximize your unique set of strengths, skills and life experiences as you develop and translate your interests and talents into the academic setting.


As a Veteran did you know?

  • You have access to VA on campus to navigate VA services and benefits:
    Available Monday-Friday 9am-4:30pm
    Yvette Branson, (646) 772-6087
  • You have an ally at school who understands your unique needs as a student Veteran.



  • Free tutoring through Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and Peer Mentoring
  • VA Work Study opportunities
  • Counseling and ongoing treatment for readjustment, stress, anger, depression, anxiety and sleep problems.
  • Refer and work with the university to request academic accommodations.
  • Coping strategies for classroom difficulties -- attention, concentration, restlessness.
  • Assist with enrollment and care at VA New York Harbor Healthcare System.
  • Obtain help and resources from within the VA and its affiliates including Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and Vocational Rehabilitation Services.
  • Tai Chi and Distress Tolerance Groups

Academic Faculty/Staff

  • Education for college/university staff about Military & Veteran culture.
  • Consult about Veteran-specific issues that impact performance and academic success.
  • Work with college/university counseling centers in serving the unique readjustment needs of Veterans.
  • Assist with communication between VA New Harbor Healthcare System and college/university staff about your concerns, resources and needs.

What to Expect

  • VITAL will maintain absolute confidentiality.
  • Prompt response to phone or email inquiries about the VITAL program.
  • Veteran-centered perspective keeping the Veteran’s well-being and best interest in mind.
  • The primary goal of the program is to support the Veteran’s efforts to complete your education as you transition to civilian life.

Pictured:  Dr. Yvette Branson, Clinical Psychologist, with VA Secretary Robert McDonald meeting with student Veterans at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Dr. Yvette Branson, Clinical Psychologist, with VA Secretary Robert McDonald meeting with student Veterans at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Dr. Yvette Branson with VA Secretary Shinseki
Dr. Yvette Branson, Clinical Psychologist, with former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki

VITAL student Nyree Shelp (left) with Marine Corps Veteran Peter Terrafranca at Fordham University.
Marine Corps Veteran Peter Terrafranca, a student at Fordham University and a Work Study student with VA's Veterans Integration To Academic Leadership (VITAL) initiative, collected statements this summer from enrolled Fordham students to help the new student Veterans coming into school. Here is what Navy Veteran Nyree Shelp had to say.

Yvette Branson, PhD
Coordinator, VITAL Initiative
VA NY Harbor Healthcare System
VITAL Brochure

Veterans Integration To Academic Leadership logo

VITAL Campuses

• CUNY Baruch College
• CUNY John Jay College
• Fordham University - Lincoln Center & Bronx
• Columbia University (pending)
• La Guardia Community College
• St John's University

VITAL Relationships

• COVA-CUNY Office of Veterans Affairs
• CUNY Hunter College
• CUNY York College
• CUNY Bronx Community College
• Columbia University
• New York University
• St. John's University
• School of Visual Arts
• Touro College of Osteopathy

Community Partnerships

• DE-CRUIT/Cry Havoc
• Hire Purpose Employment Resources
• Service Women\'s Action Network (SWAN)
• Team Red, White and Blue-workouts
• Urban Justice Veterans Advocacy Project
• Veteran/Civilian Dialogues

Community Events
Events Calendar

VITAL Brochure

Art Therapy
True Friends
Veterans and Photography
Spread the Word on VA Services
Anger & Irritability Mgmt
Battle Buds
Coaching into Care
Job Hunt
Make the Connection
Student Veterans of America
VA Campus Toolkit
Veterans Health Benefits Guide

Mobile Apps
ACT Coach
CBT-i Coach
Cognitive Behavioral Diary
Concussion Coach
Mindfulness Coach
Mobile Blue Button
MOVE! Coach
PTSD Coach
Stay Quit Coach
T2 Mood Tracker
Virtual Hope Box

Related Stories
Student Veteran Lounge at Baruch College
Yellow Ribbon School
Fordham News: Bringing Campus Culture to the Band of Brothers
CUNY Vets Newsletter
Taking it on the Chin (Facebook)
Being Resilient (Facebook)
Education is Transformative (Twitter)
Education is Transformative (Facebook)
VA Mobile Health Clinic
Initiative Helps Veterans Transition into Academic Life
Branson: College Gatekeeper
Just the Help You Need
Just the Help You Need (Facebook)

Make the Connection

Contact Info


  • See Vital Campuses List Below

Contact Number(s)

  • 646-772-6087

Hours of Operation

  • Monday-Friday