<< The Body Politic

How to help veterans succeed in college

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Student Veteran UMAs we’ve noted before, more universities and colleges are working to help military veterans adjust to college life. Even so, there is a long way to go, as Ryan Gallucci recently reminded readers of the New York Times’ “At War” blog. Gallucci, who is the deputy legislative director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, provides a good overview of services currently available to student veterans and suggests some ideas for improvements.

After recounting his own experience of having to re-apply to college after taking a “year off” to serve in Iraq, Gallucci writes:

In just a few years, the narrative for veterans on my campus and many others has changed dramatically because of the hard work of student-led veterans’ groups like the ones I met at the recent Student Veterans of America national conference in Orlando.

The conference showed me how student veterans continue to look out for the best interests of their comrades on campus, much like they did in the military. Plus, as college veterans’ groups grow in size and influence, they manage to affect positive change in their communities. In January, veterans at Clemson University commissioned a volunteer-led veterans’ resource center where veterans can receive transitional assistance, career guidance, and peer support. . . .

Unfortunately, the conference also reinforced a lingering concern that many of today’s student veterans must still choose their schools and navigate the complexities of college life on the fly when they arrive on campus. . . .

In 2010’s National Survey of Veterans, more than 40 percent of post-9/11 veterans reported that they were not aware of and did not understand their education benefits. Veterans should be armed with quality information before they start the application process. Once a veteran is on campus, it may be too late. Is this lack of up-front information perhaps driving misconceptions that veterans won’t succeed when they arrive on campus? . . .

Thanks to the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, the Pentagon is piloting new T.A.P. curricula geared toward college-bound veterans. Because of an April executive order, the Pentagon, Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies are compiling student outcome information and developing ways to track student feedback from colleges that are eligible for GI Bill students. Finally, because of last month’s Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act, Congress has required the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide more information on how veterans are faring at individual colleges, and department is looking to deliver more cost-effective counseling tools for student veterans.

Read the rest of Gallucci’s account at the Times.