I sit on a committee at my school for an annual event to honor veterans. In the first meeting I attended this past Spring, I was caught off-guard during introductions. I usually do fine with public speaking, but introductions always seem to do me in. So for the most recent meeting I made sure to make a list of the things that I needed to say, and I was finally able to state one of the real reasons I was sitting on the committee: I want to work with veterans who are attending college. This was a huge focus for me during grad school, since my husband is a vet who was attending a local university and it was also the topic of my Thesis. At the end of the meeting I was pleasantly surprised that a few of the committee members were interested in reading my research.
It’s always a nice surprise to find people who are interested in my research, but I always seem to want to learn more from them. How are they contributing to services offered to veterans and military personnel on their campus? Do they see a need for more services or dedicated offices for that population? By asking these questions to the committee, I found that while the Rochester area boasts over 10 higher education institutions, only two colleges in the area have offices with full-time staff aimed at supporting veterans. The few I spoke with discussed a need for more resources, and more people on campus who understand the military culture and the culture shock veterans can experience when arriving on campus.
To me, it doesn’t seem like there is much interest in serving specialized populations, including veterans, in the area where I work. Not that they don’t offer to help students who need it, but the offices are too busy to take on the added work of figuring out how to help students that may or may not exist. Additionally, the university offers a lot of resources at the institutional level, lessening the burden and need for individual offices.
Does your campus offer a veterans/military personnel resource office? Does your office know how many students are attending college with the help of military benefits? What kinds of resources do you think your college needs to add to better support student veterans? Do you think we need to offer specialized offices and/or services for student veterans/military personnel?