By Debbie Gregory.
Military veteran benefits such as the Montgomery GI Bill, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and now the Forever GI Bill, have enabled education for veterans by paying for expenses such as tuition, textbooks, and housing.
With those obstacles out of the way, there are still some challenges for veterans that are transitioning from the military to veteran education programs.
Gone is the military ranking system. Gone is the brotherhood. Gone is the sense of working towards the successful outcome of a shared mission. What remains, for most, is the drive towards personal, individual success, which may be confusing for some veteran students.
Additionally, since veteran students tend to be older than their civilian counterparts, they have not only had different life experiences, but they also have different life obligations, which may include spouses, children, mortgages, etc.
Another difference is that many veteran students have witnessed or experienced the horrors of war, and may be suffering from mental or physical issues.
So what can be done to support these students in order to improve their chances of success?
The VA Campus Toolkit offers tips on what faculty, staff, administrators and students can do to help veteran students.
A community site for veterans to gather on campus can empower students to share information, respond to one another’s needs, and relieve stress while providing a venue for veterans to discuss shared concerns.
Having a chapter of Student Veterans of America or a Veterans Resource Center on campus offers a safe haven for veteran students, without them having to overshare their veteran status.
Removing obstacles and red tape can go a long way towards student retention and in the reputation of your institution as a military-friendly campus.