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Setting Student Veterans Up for Success, Part II

Part II - Experiences on Campus

While there is current research being done on support services for student veterans, “there is little or no information to assess whether the efforts by institutions to provide targeted programs and services are helpful to the veterans and service members enrolled in colleges and universities.” (Kim, Young, & Coles, 2013, p. 1). Also, there may be a problem with student veterans accessing those services, because some student veterans may not self-identify (Vacchi, 2012). Student veterans, even if they do identify, may not ask for help or want to feel like a burden (Vacchi, 2012).

College campuses come with their own red tape, much of which can be difficult to navigate for student veterans (Vacchi, 2012). Some of this red tape can come from VA benefits, such as tuition payment that may come after the end of a billing cycle which can have consequences on campus (Vacchi, 2012). Another is health insurance, since most campuses require students to have …

Honest Higher Ed Truths Part III

Job Searching

Job searching is such a pain. It’s a long, lengthy process with very little transparency. You apply, spend at least an hour on an application, and the worst that can happen isn’t a “no”, it’s nothing. It’s never hearing from a person again.

My biggest advice is to not compromise. Apply for jobs you want, not just ones that will build your resume, not just ones you qualify for, not just ones you could do for a few years. Apply for jobs you want to do.

I repeat: do not compromise. Don’t take a job to get your foot in the door (hint: it probably won’t work). Don’t take a support staff position so you can “gain skills” (hint: no one cares about your support skills). Just don’t. My story is real, it’s frustrating, it’s not linear, it doesn’t have a happy ending (yet).

Trailing and Leading Spouse

On top of just job searching for myself, I also need to consider my spouse. Most of my searches were regionally bound due to my husband’s stable job. He carried the benefits and most of …

Honest Higher Ed Truths Part II

Career Sustainability

I currently work in a position that is not part of a career ladder. I am considered support staff, so there is no clear path for me to make it to a “professional” position. Even if I were to be hired as an advisor, there is no path from there. You can be promoted to Senior Advisor, but (from what I can tell) there isn’t much difference.

Even if you work in a position that is part of a career ladder, that ladder gets considerably thinner (and harder to attain) as you move up. There is only one SSAO (maybe) at each institution, we all can’t be SSAOs, it just isn’t possible. When we make the choice to stay in higher ed, when we choose to take part in ladder climbing, we need to be very realistic about what that means.

We also need to understand that some people are going to leave student affairs, and that’s totally okay. Again, not all of us can be SSAOs.

The big problem is, when is our profession not sustainable? When are we educating too many professionals for too fe…

Honest Higher Ed Truths Part I

Sphere of Influence

I have trouble staying within my sphere of influence. It took me a very long time to realize I can only control my behavior (I really blame Daring Greatly for that one). My job is small, my actions, however, are not inconsequential. My actions affect my office suite, colleagues, and students. Being grumpy, unforthcoming, or rude doesn’t serve anyone. I can control my behavior, how I react to things, how I think about them, how I implement suggestions, and how my office operates. I can’t control much else. And that’s ok. Really. It is. Be a positive force in the universe, and others will appreciate you and want to work with you. That’s how you expand your sphere of influence.


Values

Say you believe that all gifts should be wrapped in shiny blue wrapping paper. You truly believe this. You act on it consistently, you’ve shared these beliefs, and you will continue with them. Some may say you value shiny blue wrapping paper.

Your employer, however, may believe that all g…

My #CSAM15 Story

I am not in student affairs. I have never worked professionally in student affairs. I have no experience on my resume in the student affairs category. I don’t know if I’ll ever work in student affairs. So, why, you may ask, am I posting about Careers in Student Affairs Month?

It’s a great question. A wonderful one, really. Sometimes I ask myself about why I call myself a student affairs professional often, sometimes multiple times a day, sometimes all the time. Sometimes I have other things on my mind and I don’t think about student affairs at all.

I think about student success. I think about that more than student affairs. I think about how we define student success, how we encourage success, how we measure success, how important success is, the milestones of success, and the headlines about success.

I think about silos, too. I think about how we silo people so that they can’t share resources, goals, or expectations. I think about how those silos affect our work with students, and eac…

Setting Student Veterans Up for Success Part I

Part I: What can we do?
We should be offering services that are veteran-friendly, such as orientations just for veterans (Ackerman et al., 2009). And we should be offering accurate information in those services, especially when it comes to recruiting (Schnoebelen, 2013). David Vacchi also suggests that we provide transfer credits and offer thorough evaluations of non-traditional education that student veterans possess (2012).
More specifically we can create (and attend) training programs focused on student veterans (Schnoebelen, 2013). Advisors of student veterans should be made aware of the challenges veterans may face, including potential transfer credit issues (Vacchi, 2012). Some of these issues could also be from experiences while in the military, such as sexual assault (Ackerman et al, 2009). We should also be working with faculty so that they are aware of the culture of classrooms and how that may affect student veterans (Vacchi, 2012).
Some institutions have done a lot for studen…

To New Strategies

July has been particularly hectic and August will calm down for a bit before Orientation. I've been trying different things in order to make progress on my massive to-do lists.

First, I closed Outlook. Just closed it. And it was a miracle. No more interruptions, no binging or flashing whenever I got a new message. There was a downside to this: my calendar also didn't interrupt me. I missed two appointments. So then I went into Outlook and turned off all non-calendar notifications. I know, I know: everyone says to do this. I thought it was stupid. I thought I wanted to know when I got a new email. Turns out, I don't care when I get a new email. I check it strategically throughout the day and I feel so much better.

My other "new" strategy is called "do one thing at a time". It's also not all that ground-breaking. In fact, it's what I used to do in grad school. Shut off the tv, close the browser, focus on reading, or writing, or researching. So now…

Who are “Student Veterans”?

David Vacchi (2012) says it best: Colleges should expect student veterans to succeed.

The White House estimates that more than 1 million military personnel will separate from the military by 2016 (Azziz, R., 2013). Some student veterans may have started their higher education either before or during active duty (Kim, Young M., & Coles, James S., 2013). “Veterans” may include those who served during wartime or not, active duty or reserves, National Guard members (Vacchi, 2012). However, student veterans and their transition “are not a new development in U.S. higher education” (Rumann & Hamrick, 2009).

Student veterans may be part-time students who transfer in some credits (Schnoebelen, 2013). They may have responsibilities outside of college (Kim, Young M., & Coles, James S., 2013) including being married (Schnoebelen, 2013). According to the U.S. Department of Education, while 84 percent of veterans initially enroll in two-year institutions, 16 percent of veterans start in…

What Did I Miss?

My last tweet was April 29th. Well, the last one you probably saw, because I did respond to one person who tweets mainly about baseball and hockey. He's also our local Single A baseball team radio announcer, you likely don't follow him.

Anyway.

I took part in a conversation that I found really interesting. It was also full of assumptions. So, I did what I did in grad school: I challenged those assumptions.

I treat Twitter like a giant grad school class. I respect you as a person, I probably follow you for a reason or follow a conversation for a reason, and if you're participating it's probably also for a reason. So, if I disagree with someone in a conversation, it's likely that I don't actually disagree with the person. I probably disagree with their opinion/answer/tweet. I might even agree with whatever was said, but I'm trying to poke holes into it so I can learn more about it. I like to consider things in their entirety, and I believe that your idea shou…

Opinions, Twitter, and Dialogue

I have a jumble of thoughts inspired by a few different conversations on Twitter the past few days. They're a loosely linked, so I figured it would be easiest to just get it all down in one post. Let's see if anyone can follow this mess...

Opinions Twitter is a place where we share opinions. Sometimes they're part of a larger, planned discussion. Sometimes one person's thought(s) can cause a flurry of ideas and conversation. We share a lot of opinions. Some people share opinions as if they're facts or as if their experience is the only experience. Anything else is wrong or nonexistent.

X is the only way to find a job. Y is the only way I can do Z to be authentic to myself. Going through A and B is the only path to take. My problem with these: everyone's path or story is true to them. We can't devalue someone's path because it's different.

My favorite ones have to do with valuing our knowledge and skills: If you don't identify with X, you don'…

A Good Experience with VA Personnel

Today I learned of a Marine friend who is a new arrival at a new base as of this morning. He is at this new base for training, and it's an Army base. This Marine was told there was no housing available on base for him, no secure space to store his valuables, and to book a hotel room and rental car on his own dime (to be reimbursed, of course). All resources he tried to access told him that they couldn't help him because he was a Marine. He's given a per diem while training, but was not told his per diem amount. If he goes over his per diem amount, the excess amount would come out of his pay.

A few things before we move further into this story. First, this is not a new or uncommon phenomenon. It's scary and frustrating, but not new. Second, with the right people the military community can feel like a family. Regardless of branch, rank, or field, they are all in the same boat. Third, the VA has a bad reputation, and it's earned it. But, there are some great people in…

Training Programs for Faculty and Staff

There are several training programs in the country that help faculty and staff understand student veterans. One is Green Zone Training offered by The University of North Carolina and another is the Veterans Educator Training and Support (V.E.T.S.) Program at the University of Colorado. The one I’m going to review is the VET NET Ally program (Thomas, 2010).
The VET NET Ally Program was created for California State University, Long Beavh in order to fulfill the need for a safe space for veterans and is modeled after the Safe Zone Ally training program (Thomas, 2010). It offers four hours of training for faculty and staff and includes a panel of student veterans (Thomas, 2010). There are four theme areas: program purpose, policies and procedures, military and post-military culture and transition, and personal identity issues (Thomas, 2010). Similar to Safe Zone training, participants are given a decal for displaying in offices or workspaces (Thomas, 2010).
“[T]he primary goals of the prog…

National Programs that Support Student Veterans

There are many different programs, groups, and organizations that support student veterans. The ones here are nationally recognized, but they definitely aren’t the only ones out there. Do you know of one or work with one? Add it to the comments!

The first student veteran organizations were formed after World War II when veterans began attending college, but many of these groups shrunk as that generation moved on (Summerlot et al., 2009). the first known organization was the American Veterans Committee (Summerlot et al., 2009). Organizations help veterans connect with others with military backgrounds, provide a safe space, and can assist with creating change on campus (Summerlot et al., 2009).

Student Veterans of America (SVA) was formed in the Spring of 2007 (Summerlot et al., 2009). This was after veterans from Operation Eduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom returned home (Our Story). It began as student veterans on a campus to provide support for one another, and in 2008 differ…

Tuition Assistance

Here are descriptions of some of the financial aid available to military personnel and veterans. All of these are subject to change, because, well, the government runs them so there are no guarantees. Also, there may be programs at the state or local level, such as institutional scholarships, that aren’t mentioned formally here, but they do exist.
For those still in the military: Tuition Assistance, provides $4,500 annually to active-duty personnel to attend college during off-duty time (McGrevey & Kehrer, 2009) Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students; established in 2003, offers financial protections to active-duty military personnel “during a war, military operation, or national emergency” (McGrevey & Kehrer, 2009), also includes relief to activated personnel repaying student loans (McGrevey & Kehrer, 2009). Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, also known as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940; offers financial, civil, and legal protections to servicem…

Students with PTSD, Disabilities, and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)

So, first, let’s start by saying not all military veterans have PTSD or TBI, my husband doesn’t have either. Not all military veterans attending college have mental health issues (Baechtold & De Sawal, 2009). Not all military veterans are going to be disabled, and if they are considered disabled by the VA, you might not know it. If there is a student on your campus with PTSD, they are not likely to have it so bad that it’s out of control, if it was that bad, they wouldn’t be on campus. Not without a lot of support. Also: military veterans are not the only people who can be diagnosed with PTSD. Anyone who has ever had a traumatic experience can be diagnosed with PTSD. Anyone.

Now, onto the research: Women military veterans are less likely to be diagnosed with PTSD than men (Baechtold & De Sawal, 2009). Situations that are stressful to 18-24 year old men may not be as stressful to women (Baechtold & De Sawal, 2009). Sexual harassment or assault while in the military is consid…

Intro to My Student Veterans Research Project

I’m not a veteran, but I am married to one. I know a good number of them. When I was studying for my Bachelor’s degree, my husband was (honorably) discharged from the Navy. He was offered a job before his separation date, he moved home, and started working immediately. Between work and the Montgomery GI Bill he attended school for free, taking a class a term. My husband does not have PTSD, injuries from his service, or use VA Health Care or services.
Sometime after I decided I wanted to become a student affairs professional my husband encountered a nightmare at school. It made me so angry. We wrote a letter to the appropriate people, and from some insider information, that letter made it to the Provost. More on this in another post.


In grad school I became interested in a lot of different areas, including adult education and underrepresented populations. When it came time to decide on research for my Master’s Thesis in the Spring of 2010, I had a few options, but I realized how little r…