As of 2014, there were over 476,283 veterans living in Indiana. (http://www.va.gov/vetdata/veteran_population.asp)
In many cases, students identified as veterans at Valparaiso University are those who receive veteran educational benefits, usually referred to as the GI Bill or Post 9/11 Educational Benefits. But we do not limit the use of the term or our services only to those veterans.
Generally speaking, a Veteran is someone who has served in one of the five services of the US Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard). The term veteran is applied to an individual who has completed a specific term of service and has been discharged from his or her service obligation; however, the term also applies to those individuals currently serving on Active Duty, as well as those fulfilling their obligation in the Reserves or National Guard.
Many of our student veterans have been deployed one or multiple times to combat zones around the world. However, not all veterans are “combat” veterans; nonetheless, many have served honorably in other areas around the country and the world. Our Veterans have lived in and immersed themselves in different cultures throughout the US and the world, from Japan to England and Korea to Germany, as well as Panama, Africa and Iceland, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Veterans are often resilient and resourceful individuals who bring a variety of skills and experiences to the University. The basic military and technical training the Armed Forces provides instills service members with a strong sense of discipline and teamwork, and the multi-faceted mission of our modern military offers vast opportunities for them to apply their skills in real world situations with a workforce as diverse as any other in the civilian world, if not more.
Taking into account these skills and experiences, student Veterans are a substantial resource for enhancing classroom dialogue and bringing firsthand perspectives to course content. Despite these strengths, Veterans face additional challenges in college-anything from struggling to overcome stereotypes that are negative and grossly misrepresentative, to adjusting to life as a student after several years away, taking on a full college course load while simultaneously meeting the adult obligations of providing for a family, to coping with the mental stresses and physical wounds of combat service.
If you’re hearing a lot more about Veterans on campus, it’s because our office is doing its job. More to the point, it’s because recent changes to Veterans benefits, coupled with the incremental draw-down in Iraq and Afghanistan, have led to increasing numbers of Veterans in higher education.
In 2009, Congress passed an expansion of education benefits for military Veterans who have served or will serve after September 11, 2001. Commonly known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, this program is creating a surge of Veteran student enrollment which is expected to last over the next decade. Valpo is among the many institutions working to address important questions about Veterans’ needs and the ways valuable support services can be structured accordingly.
In most cases these GI Bill educational benefits cover tuition at Valpo for up to 36 months, provide a book stipend of $1000 an academic year, and provide a housing allowance. The GI Benefits are like an academic scholarship a veteran has earned by serving in the Armed Services.
The unique circumstances and non-traditional backgrounds student veterans bring to the University sometimes create challenges and potential sources of conflict or discomfort for both the veteran and the University employee.
A great resource is Frequently Asked Questions About the Military and Student Service Members and Veterans on Campus, a document from Purdue’s Military Family Research Institute, which provides insights and guidelines for working with student Veterans in the classroom: https://www.mfri.purdue.edu/resources/public/MFRI_OpDiploma_FAQ.pdf. See also the National Organization on Disability’s Teaching America’s Best Preparing Your Classrooms to Welcome Returning Veterans and Service Members at
Many student veterans at Valpo are still fulfilling service obligations either in the Active Duty, Reserves, or National Guard. University policy on students called to active duty or deployed can be seen at http://www.valpo.edu/student-financial-services/what-to-expect/veterans-information/processing-veterans-information.
Faculty and Staff who work with student Veterans are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the relevant University Policy and not to hesitate to contact the Office of Veterans Programs and Services to provide clarification or details. The staff continually talks with our student veterans who are still serving to ensure they keep their professors informed of any pending or potential deployments which may affect their academic schedule.
Information and research related to veterans’ issues are available through the government and nonprofit organization websites listed below.
- US Department of Veterans Affairs: http://www.va.gov/
- Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America: http://iava.org/?gclid=CMfi6_Gvo8QCFQaSaQodf5QAgA
- Student Veterans of America: http://www.studentveterans.org/
- Veterans of Foreign Wars: http://www.vfw.org/
- American Legion: http://www.legion.org/?gclid=CIH6h5Swo8QCFZI0aQod6zIAmQ
- Military One Source: http://www.militaryonesource.mil
If you are a veteran yourself or would simply like to be more informed or involved in veterans-centered events on campus, the Office of Veterans Programs and Services would like to hear from you. There are a number of ways you can get involved.
- Join our mailing list. The Office maintains an email list of Faculty and Staff members who have expressed an interest in supporting Veterans-centered events or learning more about Veterans-related news and information to pass on to their students and colleagues. Contact us to be added to the list.
- Join the VU Office of Military and Veterans Programs and Services Facebook page where we post upcoming events and news.
- Coordinate with our staff to have your department receive “The Student Veteran on Campus” training, which can be tailored to fit your needs and schedule. “The Student Veteran on Campus” training is an opportunity to learn more about our student veterans, the military culture, and what attitudes and behaviors helps us continue to be a military and veteran friendly campus.
If you have any questions or concerns about student veterans, please contact the Office of Veterans Programs and Services at 219.465.7969. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.