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 proof of health insurance but VA benefits is total health care, not just insurance (Vacchi, 2012). Other problems can come when applying for in-state benefits or while attending public institutions. Some student veterans are denied residency benefits after military service (Breed, 2013), which means these veterans are left without a home state.

Student veterans may not want to disclose their military identity while in classes (Thomas, 2010). Faculty may make comments regarding wars or conflicts (Vacchi, 2012). There may be instances of classmates or professors calling American servicemembers terrorists or traitors (Ackerman et al., 2009). Other classroom challenges can come from mandatory seating charts, which may not consider the needs of veterans, such as sitting with their back to a wall or near an exit (Vacchi, 2012). It’s important to create spaces where veterans are free to disclose, or not, while still offering support services.

There are horrible stories of student veterans on campuses. The article Arizona Sudent Vets Face Debt Collector Over Errors (2013) Pima Community College in Tucson received at least $67,000 from the VA erroneously. The error occurred when the school did not notify the VA when students stopped attending, and as such those students then had to work with VA debt collectors. “The college’s review showed nearly 27 percent of veterans’ files contained mistakes, such as incorrect tuition or failure to notify the VA when students left” (Ariz. Student Vets, 2013). Having administrators and certifying officials understand the ins and outs of VA benefits is crucial.

Some of the issues student veterans may face may come from ignorance of the problems student veterans face. Rumann and Hamrick (2009) found that “contemporary administrators and faculty members are less likely than earlier generations to have personally experienced military or wartime service.” (p. 25). Properly trained staff and support services can help make the transition easier with fewer horror stories.

Ackerman, R., DiRamio, D., & Mitchell, R. G. (2009). Transitions: Combat veterans as college students. In R. Ackerman, & D. DiRamio, Creating a veteran-friendly campus: Strategies for transition and success (New Directions for Student Services No.126 , pp. 45-54). San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ariz. Student Vets Face Debt Collector Over Errors. (2013, September). Community College Week, 26(3), 3. Retrieved from

Breed, 2013, A. G. (2013). Residency Rules Trip Up Veterans at State Schools. Community College Week, 25(12), 10-11. Retrieved from

Kim, Young M., & Coles, James S., 2013 (2013). Student Veterans/Service Members’ Engagement in College and University Life and Education. Retrieved from American Council on Education website:

Rumann, C. B., & Hamrick, F. A. (2009). Supporting student veterans in transition. New Directions For Student Services. In R. Ackerman, & D. DiRamio, Creating a veteran-friendly campus: Strategies for transition and success (New Directions for Student Services No.126 , pp. 25-34). San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Vacchi, 2012, D. T. (2012). Considering Student Veterans on the Twenty-First-Century College Campus. About Campus, 17(2), 15-21. doi: 10.1002/abc.21075


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