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Veteran Student Support Services. Presented to: College of Education Dr. Nicholas J. Osborne Office of the Dean of Students. What We Will Cover Today. Veterans in Higher Education General terminology & definitions Contextual Understanding / Why are veterans in the education spotlight?

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veteran student support services

Veteran Student Support Services

Presented to:

College of Education

Dr. Nicholas J. Osborne

Office of the Dean of Students

what we will cover today
What We Will Cover Today
  • Veterans in Higher Education
    • General terminology & definitions
    • Contextual Understanding / Why are veterans in the education spotlight?
    • Student-Veteran characteristics & needs
    • Veteran-friendly campus
  • Veteran Student Support Services
    • Mission & Purpose
    • Community Model
    • Support and Tips for working with Veterans
    • Events
    • UIUC Demographics
  • What images come to mind when you hear the word veteran?
    • Is there a specific gender you think of?
    • Race? Ethnicity? Political affiliation?
    • Age?
    • Are there any emotions associated with these images?
  • Where do you get your information concerning veterans?
    • Personal experience? (family member, partner, friend of a friend…)
    • Media?
    • Other?
veterans in higher education

Veterans in Higher Education


What is the relationship between Veterans and higher education?


GWOT = Global War on Terrorism

  • Approx. 2 million personnel have fought in Iraq / Afghan
  • 57% are under age 30

OEF = Operation Enduring Freedom

  • began 7 OCT 2001 / Response to 9/11
  • large theatre of operations / Afghanistan

OIF = Operation Iraqi Freedom

  • began 20 MAR 2003 / entirely in Iraq
  • multinational operation fought entirely in Iraq
contextual understanding
Contextual Understanding
  • Post 9/11 GI Bill (Ch. 33) for GWOT Veterans
    • Congress approved in summer of 2008 / Began Aug. 2009
    • Covers Tuition/Fees & Monthly Housing Allowance ($1212 / month)
    • Partially transferrable to dependents
    • Yellow-Ribbon Program / IVG
  • Anticipated growth of GWOT students, 3-5 yrs.
    • WWII GI Bill = By 1949, 7.8 million (of 16 million) Vets pursued higher education
  • Higher Education Veterans Service Act (IL)
    • Public colleges/universities with at least 1000 students must have a designated Veteran Student Services Coordinator

Are we prepared for this group of non-traditional students? What are their needs?

transitional issues
Transitional Issues
  • Military Culture (one-half of 1-percent)
    • “Suck it up & drive on” – “No whining”
    • Heavily structured
    • Team oriented
    • Exposure to life & death situations
  • University Culture
    • Feeling “old” / loss of camaraderie & purpose
    • Being singularly defined as a “Veteran”
    • Possibly being judged or misunderstood
non traditional features
Non-traditional Features
  • Veteran students are typically:
    • Older learners
    • More likely to have dependents
    • More likely to work while going to school
    • Employment / Career focused
    • Often lack academic confidence / break in education
  • Needs
    • 1 in 5 have a documented disability (compared to 1 in 10 non-veteran)
    • Gender-specific: over 150,000 women have served in Iraq / Afghanistan / 25% MST Self-reliant culture / Difficulty asking for help (hegemonic masculinities)
    • Loss of community / camaraderie – “I don’t relate to these 18 year-old kids!”
    • PTSD, TBI, Wounds resulting in loss of limb(s) = accommodations
    • Combat stressors
veteran student support services vsss

Veteran Student Support Services (VSSS)

What does it mean to be veteran-friendly?

veteran friendly campus
Veteran-Friendly Campus
  • Programming Initiatives
    • How do we apply what the literature is telling us?
    • What does it mean to be Veteran-friendly?
    • Starting a new program in Student Affairs (where do I start??!!!)
  • Key features from the literature:
    • Identify veterans accurately & communicate regularly
    • Transitional support / peer-to-peer mentoring (Vet Connect)
    • Formulate an Advisory Committee
    • Collaborate – link to internal & external units
    • Be visible (events, professional dev.)
    • Create a context – not isolated “events”
    • Do not view veterans as “damaged”
    • Be authentic and listen (SVA relationship)
    • Assessment – is this working? How do we know?
mission purpose of vsss
Mission / Purpose of VSSS
  • Identify Veterans, active military, & dependents (Admissions& OSFA)
  • Provide transitional support / “Boots to Books”
    • Have a plan in place prior to arrival on campus (Resource Guide) / Vet Connect
    • Link students to appropriate units (DRES, Women’s Resources, LGBT) & external
    • Assist with activation / mobilization & National Guard and Reserve trainings
  • Serve as the central unit for Veteran matters
    • Serve as a liaison to staff & faculty / professional development
    • Coordinate Veteran-specific events (discussion panels, media columns)
community model
Community Model

Support Units


Faculty / Staff




Veteran Student

Student Org.



how can i assist
How can I assist?
  • Make a referral to VSSS / ask questions / research
  • Collaborate with partner units – DRES, Counseling Center, Women’s Resources Center
  • Remember that military / veteran status is only part of a student’s identity
  • Don’t view veterans as “damaged” – veterans bring a wealth of life & work experience to the classroom and contribute to the diverse richness of the University
  • Be mindful of our words / assumptions / environment
questions comments to avoid
All for nothing, what a waste, etc.

Did you kill anyone?

Why did you go, if you knew people would die?

Are we winning?

Should we be over there?

Are you OK (mentally)?

Do you think you have PTSD?

Do you have to go back?

What was it like? / How (bad) was it?

What do you think about the war / the President?

Did you see anyone die?

Talking about why we shouldn’t be “there”

Vietnam all over again

As a woman, you were probably shielded from the violence

Questions / Comments to AVOID
events get involved
Events / Get Involved
  • Events
    • New VSSS webpage (August)
    • OEF/OIF Welcome Home Event (August)
    • September 11th 10-year Ceremony (September)
    • Daily Illini Veterans Series (September)
    • Diversity Conference / Veterans Discussion Panel (September 19-20)
    • Orientation / Meet & Greet w/Parkland Veterans (October)
    • Women’s Resources Center / Veterans Lunch Series (October)
    • Veterans Day (November)
    • SVA Research Project (November)
    • Student Veteran Lounge (November ‘12)
    • Veterans Display at the UG Library (November ‘12)
    • November 10th Recognition Ceremony (November ‘12)
descriptive features unique identifiers for assessing needs
Descriptive FeaturesUnique Identifiers for Assessing Needs
  • 387 student-Veterans identified in Spring 2012, 53 dependents

When we help a Veteran to heal, we help his or her family to heal, and from there, the community, and from there, our Country.

  • Personal Reflection – what emotions came up?
  • Are these two pieces related? In what ways?
  • Question, Quote, or Comment
  • In what way(s) can these articles inform our practice as scholar-practitioners?
    • Ex: Linking Veterans to counseling
    • Talking about issues that bring-up shame & guilt
  • Humanizing the data (my work with Veterans)
    • San Francisco Zen Center
    • Book that triggered a Veteran
  • Military Culture vs. University Culture
    • Emphasis on being self-reliant
    • Transitions
  • Construction of Masculinities (hegemonic)

Fear of the Feminine

Emotional illiteracy “I’m fine”

Linking to services


Nicholas J. Osborne

Assistant Dean of Students

Dir., Veterans Support Services

Office of the Dean of Students