Resources for Faculty & Staff
Veterans bring unique experiences and a special set of challenges to their university experience. USU is now serving approximately 450 veteran students. We anticipate that there will be a gradual increase in the number of veterans who will be using their veteran's education benefits and enrolling at USU on-campus and distance education programs. These students are male and female, traditional college age and nontraditional. Regardless of how these students "look," their experience as a veteran makes them different in many ways.
Please take a few moments to read through the information on this site to learn how you can create a welcoming environment for student veterans. With any unique student group, there are questions that you should ask and some that you should not. Please take the time to find out more.
Do not hesitate to contact the programs listed below if you have questions related to serving veterans in your classes. The Veterans Resource Office is available to meet with departments or individuals to discuss the needs of students.
Facilitating College Success for Veterans
Returning veterans face a variety of issues that may or may not affect their transition and success in the academic environment. Veterans bring military experience and combat training that can be positive assets as well as challenges. Facilitators should help veterans explore and identify how these experiences are a source of personal strength and psychological resilience. These skills should be recognized and channeled towards the formation of adaptive and productive attitudes and behaviors to promote success in the academic environment.
- 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 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.
Challenges to Academic Success
- Those returning from active duty in a combat zone have almost all been ambushed, attacked, shot at, and know someone who was seriously injured or killed.
- One in six Iraq veterans have had post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, or generalized anxiety.
- One in nine Afghanistan vets has experienced PTSD, major depression or generalized anxiety. Because PTSD alters brain processes, it affects learning and memory.
- Traumatic Brain Injury and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury are the “signature” injuries/disabilities from the current war. Modern medical advances mean that there are more with veterans living with the impact of these injuries.
- Veterans with disabilities have a hard time admitting they are disabled and asking for accommodations since they see themselves as warriors.
- Ex-military men and women have a difficult time relating to their campus peers’ everyday concerns and issues after being in a combat zone.
- Readjustment issues with families and coworkers are common, since deployment disrupts the structure and continuity of family and work units.
- Returning vets are used to clear protocols and designated chains of command. They may have a low tolerance for bureaucracy, indecisiveness, or lack of structure. In the campus environment, rules may be unclear or change from setting to setting, there is a lower sense of order, and bureaucratic problems often arise. These difficulties can create anxiety or frustration for many veterans.
- Soldiers can get used to the “adrenalin high” of being in a combat zone and dealing with life and death situation. So they may find the pace and content of college life to be boring, trivial, or frustrating.
- They may feel guilty about something they experience or had to do during deployment (e.g. injure or kill someone, be unable to prevent the injury or death of a friend or comrade, accidentally hurt a civilian, be ordered to do something they felt badly about, etc.)
- They may attempt too many credits in a term to make up for lost time, leading to failure.
Becoming a Mentor
The Veterans Resource Office (VRO) is developing a mentoring program between faculty/staff veterans and student veterans. The main purpose of this program is to assist the returning student veterans in their transition from the military to the university. The VRO believes that the faculty/staff veterans can have greater understanding of such students regarding the unique nature of their military services as well as their transitional challenges. Faculty/staff veterans are also likely familiar with the university system, which can be of significant benefits to the students who are new to the system. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please contact the Veterans Resource Office. If you have a student who may benefit from this program, please encourage them to contact the Veteans Resource Office.