Unlike traditional university students, student Veterans are typically older and face challenges similar to those of adult and non-traditional students, but with the added dimension that comes with being a Veteran. They may have different stressors than their younger peers. Veterans face challenges such as adjusting to life as a student after several years away, taking on a full college course load while fulfilling the adult obligations of providing for a family, and coping with the mental stresses and physical wounds of combat service. However, they also bring with them unique and rich experiences that contribute to the classroom.
- Who is a Veteran?
- Whom to Contact with Questions about a Veteran Student?
- What are the University Policies Regarding Missing Class for Military Service?
- Where to find Articles and Resources Regarding Veterans in Higher Education?
- What Best Practices Exist for Working with Veterans in the Classroom?
Who is a Student Veteran?
In many cases, students identified as Veterans at Pitt-Greensburg are those receiving Veterans educational benefits at the state or federal level, but we do not limit the use of the term or our services only to those Veterans.
Generally speaking, a Student Veteran is someone who has served in one of the five branches of the US Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard). The term Veteran is often applied to an individual who has honorably 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.
Veterans bring a variety of skills and experiences to the University. Basic military and technical training received through the Armed Forces instills service members with a strong sense of discipline and teamwork. Student Veterans are a resource for enhancing classroom dialogue and bringing firsthand perspectives to course content.
What are the University Policies Regarding Missing Class for Military Service?
Some student Veterans are still fulfilling service obligations in either Active Duty, the Reserves, or the National Guard. University policy provides accommodation for these students in the event they are mobilized or receive orders that incidentally conflict with their course schedules. Faculty and staff members who work with student Veterans are encouraged to become familiar with these policies.
In addition, Military and Veteran students may have medical appointments scheduled months in advance, which may impact course attendance. We ask that you be willing to work with them.
What Best Practices Exist for Working with Veterans on campus and in the Classroom?
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. Our office is constantly on the lookout for resources and guidelines to help faculty and staff effectively engage student Veterans and understand their needs, expectations, and points-of-view.
One such resource is From Combat to Classroom, a document originally created by Salt Lake Community College in partnership with George E. Wahlen and the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Pitt-Greensburg was granted permission to adopt this document as a staff and faculty resource.
The Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) Initiative’s mission includes the promotion of positive cohesion between Veterans and the entire learning community through campus and community clinical education and training.
- The VA Campus Toolkit provides some helpful tips and resources for faculty, staff, administrators, and other students.
The American Council on Education (ACE) has also developed several helpful resources for supporting student veterans on campus. Originally designed as a collaborative online resource, the toolkit highlights a variety of best practices including veteran-specific orientation, on-campus veteran service centers, prospective student outreach efforts, faculty training, and counseling and psychological services for veteran students.
Where to find Articles and Resources Regarding Veterans in Higher Education?
Sources of information and research related to Veterans issues are available through the following Veteran, government and nonprofit organization websites.
- US Department of Veterans Affairs
- PA Department of Veterans Affairs
- American Council on Education (ACE)
- Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America
- Student Veterans of America
- Veterans of Foreign Wars
- American Legion
- Military One Source
Whom to Contact with Questions about a Student Veteran?
Beyond policy, empathy, understanding, and a willingness to work with student Veterans, military personnel and their families always works best. If you have any questions or concerns about Student Veterans that you are working with, please contact Lisa M. Reffner, Pitt-Greensburg Veterans Services. Office: 120 Millstein Library; Phone: 724-836-7188; E-mail: UPGVeterans@pitt.edu.