Many Colleges and Universities Ramping Up Programs for Military and Veteran Students
A survey of 690 higher education institutions finds colleges and universities have increased services and programs for veteran and military students during the past three years.
From Soldier to Student II: Assessing Campus Programs for Veterans and Service Members updates a 2009 study which provided the first national snapshot of the programs and services colleges and universities had in place to serve veterans and military personnel following passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008.
This new survey, released recently by the American College of Education, found 62 percent of responding institutions currently provide programs and services specifically designed for military service members and veterans, up from 57 percent in 2009. Seventy-one percent reported including such programs and services in their long-term strategic plan, a notable gain from 57 percent in 2009.
The 2012 survey was conducted through a partnership between the American Council on Education (ACE), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and NAVPA—National Association of Veteran's Program Administrators.
The 2009 survey was designed to measure campus readiness to serve student veterans and military students in the wake of passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The updated survey, presented today at the Department of Defense Worldwide Education Symposium, assesses the current availability of specialized programs and services for these students at responding institutions and measures the progress made during the past three years.
Responding institutions have improved in meeting the needs of veteran and military students in a number of ways, including:
- Seventy-one percent of institutions that offer programs and services for military and veteran students have a dedicated office serving those students, up from 49 percent in 2009.
- Eighty-four percent of the institutions that offer services for veteran and military students provide counseling to assist with post-traumatic stress disorder, compared to 16 percent in 2009.
- Fifty-five percent of the institutions that offer services for veteran and military students have staff trained to assist with physical disabilities, up from 33 percent in 2009, and 36 percent have staff trained to assist specifically with brain injuries, up from 23 percent in 2009.
- Forty-seven percent offer a veteran student lounge or gathering place, up from 12 percent in 2009.
"Campuses across the country have taken major steps forward over the past three years to develop more specialized programs and services to serve veteran and military students," said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. "This report shows that while challenges remain, higher education is working hard to meet the needs of this important and growing population of students."
"The updated From Soldier to Student report indicates that as more military and veteran students enroll, higher education continues to create and adapt programs to better welcome and assist them in achieving their degree goals," said AASCU President Muriel Howard. "It also provides a useful snapshot of responding colleges and universities' ongoing efforts to meet the growing military and veteran student population's unique educational and social needs."
"Veteran student success inside the classroom relies on a foundation of support outside the classroom. As this report demonstrates, campuses have made great strides in their commitment to supporting today's veteran students and creating a culture of learning and personal development through provision of critical student services," said NASPA President Kevin Kruger. "NASPA is proud to have worked with our partners to produce this timely and important report, and we remain steadfast in our efforts to support veteran students on their pathways to successful degree completion."
"While diligently planning to improve the climate on campuses for veteran and military students, we are additionally challenged to create an atmosphere where interaction and communication between our offices is fluid," said NAVPA President Dorothy Gillman. "The many facets of accomplishing tasks to ensure the payment of education benefits are key in supporting programmatic efforts. There is still work to do."
The survey found areas in which the responding institutions can improve in serving military and veteran students, including:
- Assisting military and veteran students with their transition to the college environment. Only 37 percent of postsecondary institutions with services for military students and veterans provide transition assistance. Social acculturation was identified by 55 percent of institutions as a priority, so there is an awareness of the issue even if services have not yet been sufficiently developed.
- Raising faculty and staff sensitivity to the unique issues faced by military and veteran students and their family members. While 54 percent of institutions indicated this concern was a priority, more work remains to be done.
- Streamlining campus administrative procedures for active-duty military students returning from deployment. Only 28 percent of institutions with programs and services for military personnel have developed an expedited re-enrollment process to help students restart their academic efforts.
The report now is available on the ACE website.
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