Schools often like to use the phrase “veteran-friendly” in their marketing campaigns, but what does that mean? Veterans are often not sure. Does it mean all veterans are welcome? Does it mean they have tailored programs and services on campus meant to support student veterans?
Some schools that describe themselves as veteran-friendly fail to communicate with student veterans, have no clear policies about student veterans, and have little to no dedicated staff, leaving some students without answers regarding challenges they face.
So then, what does it mean to become a veteran-friendly university? The answer is not likely to be the same for each campus, but we would like to offer a general guide.
CHECKLIST FOR A VETERAN-FRIENDLY SCHOOL
Being a veteran-friendly school means recognizing that services for students may not be enough as-is when it comes to veterans. This does not mean there needs to be a separate tier of support or something comparable to the VA; it means that there are specific supports for the student veteran community that campuses need to keep in mind.
It means accommodating where you can, making changes where you can, and aiming to develop a culturally-informed approach.
- Train all staff and educators in veteran culture.
- Programming, literature, and website information must be clear and consistent, so veterans know why the university is committed to serving veterans.
- Include a list of veteran services your institution provides in welcome packets to incoming students.
- Provide transition assistance to the college environment.
- Establish a peer mentor program.
- Provide dedicated space where student veterans can study, build a support network, and learn about resources specific to their needs from trained staff.
- Provide accessible, high-quality G.I. Bill benefits assistance.
- Make disability services for student veterans a priority.
- Educate academic and career advisors on military occupational specialties (MOS) and transferrable skills.
- Recognize prior military experience for college credits beyond the standard physical education credit.
- Provide strong mental health services and support.
- Create a committee of staff and administrators to establish clear goals for each school year related to supporting student veterans.
- Speak directly to veterans for guidance rather than creating veteran programs without input.
- Partner with organizations that can help veterans and invite agencies to your campus regularly to provide additional support.
- Include student veterans in the institution’s strategic plans.
Recommended Viewing: Combat to Community: Meeting the Needs of Student Veterans on Your Campus