Thank you for your support of our military-connected students. Training on how to support this non-traditional student population is available at your request. Please contact the Office of Veteran and Military Services to arrange training.
The VA Campus Toolkit provides information about today's student Veterans and what faculty and staff can do to help.
Below are some recommendations from the American Council on Education Veterans Toolkit:
Veteran students face many of the same challenges as adult or nontraditional students, such as:
• They are older and more mature
• Many are tending to the needs of a family
• Some are commuting long distances to complete their education
Military-connected students, however, also bring with them a structure, sense of discipline, and work ethic that typically far exceeds faculty expectations. Veterans bring a wealth of experience and skills to the academic environment. For example, today's service members have been trained to work with groups from different cultures. They are skilled in getting groups to focus on tasks and use each other's strength to accomplish goals. These experiences can add significant depth to classroom discussions.
Opening Lines of Communication:
• Encourage Veteran students to contact you if they encounter circumstances that may affect their performance in a particular course. This can be accomplished by simply adding a statement to your course syllabus
• Veteran students may request seating preferences (back of the room, for example). Do not misunderstand this request—just understand that they are often more comfortable facing a group
• Understand that some Veterans may be initially hesitant to actively participate in class discussions. Allow each to build his/her own level of trust with you and other students
• Expect the same classroom responsibilities and performance, but accommodate absences related to VA appointments or National Guard/Reserve-duty commitments
• Take the time to explain course assignments and institutional policies to all students (and do not single out student Veterans). Military-connected students are used to following orders and directions; they do not need to be "constantly told what to do" but just want to know their requirements and expectations as most will take initiative and work within these parameters
• Learn about combat-related disabilities, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), but do not assume that all student Veterans deal with the symptoms of these injuries
• Structure your course with the spirit of universal design and teach using multiple methods to account for students who have different experiences, learning preferences, and capabilities
• Most importantly, avoid expressing personal sentiments related to war or military personnel that could alienate or embarrass student Veterans. All Veterans deserve recognition and appreciation for their service
While most student Veterans are tech-savvy, some more than their civilian counterparts, word of mouth continues to be the way most will successfully receive and process information. While on active duty, service members do not typically need to check e-mail or text messages constantly to manage their schedules. They are told where to be and when—and they are expected to remember that information.
It may take student Veterans some time to adjust to a culture where so much information is conveyed without the spoken word. It is important to recognize that the transition to education and an academic environment can be a difficult one. Any transition is a process and can take some time, but you can show your support by welcoming Veterans home and expressing your appreciation for their service.