By Debbie Gregory.
A panel of experts, including Veteran students, have drafted the “8 Keys to Success,” specific steps that colleges and universities can take to better welcome, encourage and assist Veteran students. Now President Obama has challenged educational institutions to adopt these keys to help improve Veteran education.
“Let’s help our Veterans get that degree, get that credential and compete for the high-skilled jobs of tomorrow,” he told the crowd at the recent Disabled American Veterans National Convention in Orlando, Fla. More than 250 community colleges and universities have already answered his call, and signed on to implement the program in order to help their Veteran students.
The 8 Keys to Success to help schools improve their Veteran education programs are:
1. Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for Veteran students.
2. Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.
3. Implement an early alert system to ensure all Veteran students receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.
4. Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all Veteran students, together with the creation of a designated space (even if limited in size).
5. Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for Veteran students.
6. Use a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on Veteran students, including demographics, retention and degree completion.
7. Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to Veteran students.
8. Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for Veteran students.
The keys are being implemented in different ways across the country. Some of these implementations include hosting campus orientations specifically for Veterans, assigning every Veteran student a counselor, and creating partnerships with employers to help place Veteran graduates into jobs in high-demand and high-growth fields.
To further Veterans’ success in higher education and employment, the VA is also expanding its VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) and Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) programs, which connect Veterans to VA resources. Thousands of colleges and universities are developing or expanding their Veterans Success Centers as a result of the VA’s VSOC and VITAL investments.
“This commitment made by colleges and universities will help Veterans better transition from military service into the classroom, graduate, and find a good job to help strengthen our economy,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Given the opportunity, Veterans will succeed because they possess exceptional character, team-building skills, discipline, and leadership.”