American Veterans Group, City of Norfolk partner to aid peer-support program for student veterans

Gift will help Old Dominion University veterans ease transition to college


MELVILLE, N.Y. – American Veterans Group and the City of Norfolk have partnered to fund a peer-support program at Old Dominion University that assists veterans with their transition from military to academic life.

American Veterans Group donated $3,000 to support a program at Old Dominion that trains student-veteran leaders to provide emotional and academic support for their peers who are new on campus. The program, called Peer Advisors for Veterans Education (PAVE), reaches more than 250 incoming student veterans at Old Dominion every year.

The donation was made possible by the City of Norfolk’s decision to choose American Veterans Group as a co-manager on a recent city bond issue. American Veterans Group is a growing investment banking firm that dedicates 25% of its profits to support veterans’ causes. The firm, a public benefit corporation, directs its philanthropy to communities where it does business.

Old Dominion University is widely known as a military-friendly school, so it made perfect sense to direct some resources their way to help further their mission,” said Ben Biles, co-founder and chief executive officer of American Veterans Group. “Support for the PAVE program at ODU demonstrates how the City of Norfolk’s decision to partner with us translates into tangible support for veterans in the Norfolk and wider southeast Virginia community.”

“This was a great outcome for the City of Norfolk, given our strong connection to the military and being home to the world’s largest naval base” said Christine Garczynski, the City of Norfolk‘s director of finance.  “We’re especially pleased that in addition to the dollars and cents saved on the financial side, the partnership with American Veterans Group made a clear impact on the human side.  Being able to save money for taxpayers through low rates while also giving back to our veteran community through the donation to Peer Advisors for Veteran Education at Old Dominion University is another great success for the City.”

PAVE, developed at the University of Michigan in 2012, includes a national network of 42 colleges and universities. Old Dominion has offered PAVE since 2016. The PAVE program is integral to the success of the university’s student body, a quarter of which is affiliated with the U.S. military. More than 3,000 Old Dominion students receive GI Bill benefits.

“Last year, PAVE reached 256 student veterans at ODU,” said Michelle Kees, director of the PAVE national network at the University of Michigan. “Given the escalating mental-health needs and academic stress associated with the recent pandemic, we expect those numbers to be even higher in the next year. Thanks to American Veterans Group and the City of Norfolk, ODU will be able to train 13 student-veteran leaders to support their student-veteran population through the PAVE program in 2021.”

“ODU’s trained PAVE advisors are dedicated to helping incoming peer student veterans successfully transition to college,” said Kristal Kinloch-Taylor, Military Connection Center director at Old Dominion. “Old Dominion University’s Military Connection Center is committed to assisting veterans including active-duty service members, reservists, guard members and their families to successfully navigate the transition to academic life.”

In September, American Veterans Group served as a co-manager of a syndicate led by Bank of America Merrill Lynch for the sale of $77.8 million in taxable general obligation refunding bonds for the City of Norfolk. Morgan Stanley also was a co-manager. The refunding resulted in savings to taxpayers of $3 million over the life of the issue.

About American Veterans Group

American Veterans Group, PBC, is a military veteran-owned, social impact-focused broker-dealer that delivers value to institutional clients while providing meaningful philanthropic support to the military veteran community. The company reinvests 25 percent of its earnings in national and local military veteran nonprofit organizations that provide worthy services and support to one of America’s most vulnerable, at-risk populations. As Wall Street’s only Public Benefit Corporation, American Veterans Group empowers institutional clients to partner in its social mission while enabling them to remain focused on key business objectives and goals. To learn more about American Veterans Group, visit their website at

About Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University is Virginia’s entrepreneurial-minded doctoral research university with more than 24,000 students, rigorous academics, an energetic residential community, and initiatives that contribute $2.6 billion annually to the commonwealth’s economy.

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