Faculty and Staff
Facilitating College Success for Veterans
While many students have disruptions in their personal lives that impact their coursework; Being deployed is unique. Therefore, after being in a combat zone or called to activity duty, Readjustment to life at home and school may present a challenge.
Returning veterans face a variety of issues that may or may not affect their transition and success in the academic environment. While many veterans do not have symptoms related to Post Traumatic Stress, those who may, might demonstrate a heightened startle, for example, response to loud noises or sudden movements. However, Veterans also bring military experience and training which may translate positively as attributes in the classroom.
Faculty and Advisors are uniquely positioned to help veterans explore and identify how these experiences are a source of personal strength and psychological resilience. Once recognized, these attributes can be channeled towards the formation of adaptive and productive attitudes and behaviors to promote success in the academic environment.
Support Academic Success- Experience that can translate to Classroom success
Recognize strengths and help the student build upon and translate those assets towards success:
- Veterans have been trained to work with many different kinds of people, often in a group environment. They know how to get a group to focus on the tasks assigned and use the strengths of each member of a group.
- They have developed strong habits of self-discipline.
- Many are adept at managing their time as they juggle jobs and family as well as school.
- They are focused on their goals and may not have time or inclination to take part in extraneous activities.
- The educational experience is highly valued and they want to take full advantage of the opportunity for a degree.
- Their past experiences provide a broad background that they bring a new knowledge and their world view is more global then the average college student.
- Through their military training and travel, they may have discovered interest areas that can lead to a career or vocation.
Previous experience have given them confidence as they have persisted over many obstacles to be where they are today.
Tips for Faculty (2012) Modified from Utah State University
Reintegration into the classroom
Accommodating the needs of our veteran students does not imply that we should "diagnose" or change how we teach. However, having an awareness of the issues that veterans may face enables faculty and staff to be astute in recognizing and understanding behaviors that may emerge. Accommodating their needs can ease their transition from military life to the civilian classroom, and improve the educational experience for all students as well as the educational outcomes. Listed below are some issues to consider in meeting the needs of veteran students:
- Create a trusting and caring classroom environment through your approach to all students and your teaching style so that veteran students feel comfortable to approach you and discuss their unique needs and challenges.
- Encourage veteran students to contact you if they encounter circumstances that may impact their performance in your course.
- Accommodate any special needs expressed by veteran students. This may include (but not be limited to) wanting to sit in the last row of the class to avoid exposing their backs, sitting away from windows, being hesitant initially to participate in discussions and missing class due to VA appointments or reserve-duty commitments.
- Be willing to take the time to explain course, assignment, and university policies to veteran students as they may be used to following orders without question. Veteran students may not know they can ask for permission to submit assignments late for valid reasons, appeal grades, or request special accommodations, when necessary.
- Learn about disabilities, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) some veterans may suffer so that they can be referred to appropriate campus services for necessary accommodations.
- Expect the same classroom responsibilities and performance from veteran students as non-veteran students (neither increased nor decreased expectations).
- Help veteran students to successfully work together with civilian students on team projects and interact with them effectively. Some veteran students may prefer working only with other veteran students because of their shared military experiences and work style, but it is important to help veteran students integrate with civilian students and vice versa.
- As with all students, know how to teach veteran students who have different experiences, learning preferences and capabilities.
- Do not express in class sentiments related to war or military personnel that could alienate veteran students or put them on the spot. All veterans deserve recognition and appreciation for their service regardless of our personal opinions.
- Involve veteran students, at their own comfort level, in coursework related discussions where they can share their service experiences and enrich the learning experience of all students.
- When possible, engage veteran students in leadership opportunities to contribute to the development of other students. Veteran students can help to promote academic programs in recruitment meetings and open houses.
When students identify themselves as veterans, be mindful about making assumptions, and reserve judgment about what their actual experience might have been.
Resources for Veteran/Military-connected Women
Business and Professional Women's Foundation- Joining Forces -Women Veterans in Transition and Developing Effective Mentoring and Network Programs