By Debbie Gregory.
Veterans who have transitioned out of the military do so with rich veteran education benefits, especially those who have the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. In addition to tuition, the benefit covers housing, books and supplies. It’s no wonder that schools want to recruit these potential students.
But because veterans can only spend these veteran education benefits once, finding the right institution to help guarantee success is of great importance. This is achieved by finding an institution that fosters a culture which is supportive, appreciative, respectful, embracing, and inclusive of the veterans it educates. Schools that genuinely value diversity will make an active, sustained effort to attract veterans, because they recognize the value of their presence in the classroom.
Being veteran friendly also means being responsive to the unique needs of their student-veteran population.
Here are some characteristics a veteran education program should provide:
- A veterans lounge as a designated space for the veterans to gather, study, and socialize
- Department of Veterans Affairs resources directly on campus
- A chapter of Student Veterans of America
- Fully covered tuition through the G.I. Bill, and a commitment to meet any shortfalls through institutional aid
- Exemption from standard residential housing policies since veterans are older and may have families
- Credit for military service
- A quality education
Military bases maintain an education office, and conduct transition assistance workshops for servicemen and women preparing to reenter civilian life.
Additional resources include:
- The Warrior Scholar Program empowers enlisted military veterans by providing them with a skill bridge that enables a successful transition from the battlefield to the classroom. The program works to maximize their education opportunities by making them informed consumers of education, and increases the confidence they will need to successfully complete a rigorous four-year undergraduate program at a top-tier school.
- Service to School, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides free application counseling to military veterans. Their goal is to help veterans win admission to the best universities possible and to help them maximize their education benefits.
- The Posse Foundation, which forms groups of 10 veterans who all are admitted to the same college at once, and form a ready-made squad of peers who can support each other throughout their college experience and succeed as a team.