New Director Named for Veterans Services, GI Bill Celebrates 75th Anniversary with Pitt Tie

Aryanna BerringerAryanna Berringer, an Iraq War veteran, is now serving as director of the Office of Veterans Services (OVS).

Berringer, an Oregon native, enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 18, just months after the attacks of September 11, 2001. The first in her family to enlist in the military, she was deployed to Jordan in February 2003 to support Operation Iraqi Freedom as part of the XVII Airborne Corps and served honorably through 2004.

“Aryanna is very dynamic and personable, and she’s eager to get started,” said Antonio Quarterman, director of the McCarl Center for Nontraditional Student Success and College of General Studies in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. “She will bring a lot to the role, to the University and to OVS — as she builds relationships with the veteran and military community in the city and in Pennsylvania.”

In addition to her service in the Army, Berringer’s diverse experiences have ranged from IT project management consulting to starting a nonprofit geared toward improving nutrition in schools and military installations as a matter of national security. She has won numerous awards including the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

“As someone who has made a deep commitment to continued service to my community after I left the military, I am very honored to join the Pitt family in support of our military veterans and families,” said Berringer. “I look forward to the mission of engaging and strengthening our veteran community — students, families, staff and faculty alike."

GI Bill drafted by Pitt Law grad turns 75

Jean Colmery Roberts, Amy J. Wildermuth, Aryanna BerringerBerringer’s new position comes as the University celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the GI Bill, which was created by a 1916 graduate of Pitt’s School of Law. Harry Colmery, a Braddock native, served in World War I as a first lieutenant in the Army Air Service after graduating from Pitt Law. He returned from war and settled in Kansas, and went on to a successful career in law, arguing two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1936, Colmery served as national commander of the American Legion, advocating for a better future for servicemen and women upon their return home from war. In late 1943, Colmery handwrote the first draft of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 — the original GI Bill of Rights — on stationery from the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. The bill, signed into law by former president Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 22, 1944, would provide education benefits to veterans and help ease their transition into civilian life.

Ahead of the bill’s 75th anniversary, Berringer, along with Amy J. Wildermuth, dean and professor of Pitt Law, paid a visit to the home of Colmery’s 99-year-old niece in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, and presented her with a customized military challenge coin. Challenge coins are collected by many veterans and displayed with honor and pride.

“It’s a great honor for us to have someone who accomplished as much as Mr. Colmery did as one of our graduates, and to have him as an inspiration for what is possible for our students at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law,” said Wildermuth.

Over the past 10 years, almost 1,000 Pitt graduates have obtained an education utilizing the GI Bill, with another 500 currently enrolled in classes. According to Berringer, about $8 million worth of education benefits come from the GI Bill per academic year at Pitt.

A top 10 military-friendly school

Additionally, Pitt has been named a 2019-2020 Military Friendly Top 10 School, as recognized by Viqtory Media, an honor measured by the campus’ commitment, effort and success in creating sustainable and meaningful benefit for the military community. This the eighth year in a row that the Pittsburgh campus has received a Military Friendly designation. The Greensburg, Johnstown and Bradford campuses also were named Military Friendly Schools for 2019-2020, with Pitt-Bradford also receiving an honor as a Military Spouse Friendly School.

Military-affiliated students at Pitt are supported by OVS, PITT VETS and other entities across campus.