Harger Boal, coordinator of Disability Services at Northern Michigan University, earned a Director's Challenge Coin from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for his service to veterans at NMU in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. MVAA Partnership Coordinator Ryan Engle recently visited campus to present the coin.
In nominating Boal for the honor, NMU Veterans' Services Coordinator Mike Rutledge said the shift to 100% online instruction when the pandemic took hold in March 2020 was challenging for many veterans. Some had not been in a regular classroom for several years, and had to suddenly adjust to a virtual learning environment.
“Harger, realizing veterans often have undisclosed disabilities due to PTSD, TBI, etc., offered his services to any veteran who was struggling with the online teaching model,” Rutledge wrote. “He directed me to many ‘open market' tools to share with the student-veterans, but also offered services to veterans without having any proof of diagnosed disability.
“Harger's assistance allowed NMU to see only a minimal number of veterans withdrawing from some or all course work. Our veteran population only decreased by 5%, an attrition rate much smaller than most Michigan schools.”
Boal is not only a staff member at Northern, but an alumnus. He holds a master of arts degree from NMU and a bachelor's from Olivet College.