When Veterans return from deployments and get out of the military, the campus can be an attractive place to start the next chapter of life. It can also be a place with unique challenges of reintegration, like a younger peer group and the juggling of family or career life. So, Veterans are usually called nontraditional students, but that doesn’t mean universities understand or always prepare for their needs. But some schools have started to understand the need for Veteran-specific programs and services on campus.
The move from combat to college is nothing new. Universities experienced a swell in Veteran enrollment after World War II, and today’s GI Bill has sent hundreds of thousands of Vets to college in the last few years. Some schools have responded by boosting certification officials for claims, while others have dedicated buildings and dorms to Vets. At San Diego State University, ex-military students rally at a Veterans Center on campus, which provides dedicated living areas and a place where Vets can relax around their combat-tested peers. Other schools in California have duplicated the effort, and Montana State University also established its own Veterans Center. These schools have started a promising trend to solve the issue of a difficult transition from combat.
Some schools may not recognize the need for these programs, so you can help send the message. Talk with other Veterans at your school to see if starting a center would benefit the campus. School chapters of Student Veterans of America (if already established) can help identify sources of revenue and lobby administrators for dedicated space, too. Reintegration is not something that can be done easily alone, and a place for battle buddies to find each other can make a world of difference.