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    January 2016

    Serving the Needs of Student Veterans on Campus

    Serving the Needs of Student Veterans on Campus

    Eligible service members leaving the military can enroll in undergraduate and graduate programs under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides assistance with tuition, fees, and other expenses. More than 5 million of these potential students are expected to transition out of service by 2020, according to an ACE report. To create a welcoming, veteran-friendly environment, consider these actions:

    • Identify services across campus your institution is already providing to your student veterans. Consider establishing a student veterans office to provide information about veterans’ services.

    • Conduct a survey to identify the experiences of veterans attending your institution, solicit their feedback on services provided, and ask about additional services they need. These needs may vary based on their military role and experience. Use the survey results to create or modify services and programs as needed for:
      • Orientation. Because student veterans tend to be older, have different life experiences than typical undergraduate students, and are used to a highly regimented atmosphere, consider offering customized orientation sessions. For student veterans who are used to a chain of command, a decentralized college campus may be confusing. Explain available offices and services, and consider creating a guide for these students.

      • Faculty and staff education. To help veterans feel welcome, consider educating faculty and staff on obstacles they face, the military-related language they’re used to, and the basics of post-traumatic stress disorder. For example, Virginia Commonwealth University trains its faculty and staff to be more sensitive to veterans’ needs and to become volunteer resources for them.

      • Counseling center. Evaluate resources in the campus counseling center for limitations in dealing with psychological issues student veterans face. Counselors may require additional specialized training. Explore partnerships with community resources to fill in any evaluation and treatment gaps. Develop a relationship, if possible, with the nearest Veterans Affairs (VA) facility.

      • Disability services. Many veterans who are not rated “disabled” by the VA system may qualify for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Conduct separate education and outreach sessions to help student veterans understand their rights and obligations under the ADA. Educate staff members on recognizing and dealing with common injuries affecting student veterans.

      • Career services. Veterans may be new to civilian employment and may not know how to translate their often specialized military skills to those employers need. Train your staff to help student veterans identify and describe their skills for the civilian workforce. Offer specialized training in resume writing and interviewing. Identify and understand local job training programs available to veterans in your community.


    Resources

    Ohio Department of Higher Education Veterans Toolkit
    ACE Toolkit for Veteran Friendly Institutions

    Washington State Veteran Guidelines and Best Practices in the Classroom

    Student Veterans on Campus: A Need for More Staff Training, ACU

    University of Illinois Veterans Student Support Services: Faculty & Staff Resources

    Ohio Department of Higher Education: Student Veteran Surveys

    The Jed Foundation: Understanding and Supporting the Emotional Health of Student Veterans

    ACE: Accommodating Student Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

    Kognito: Veterans on Campus Interactive Programs

    By Heather A. Salko, Senior Risk Management Counsel


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