Serving in the US Armed Forces is a unique experience unknown to most civilians. The military has its own cultures, hierarchies, teaching methodology, code of justice, and social norms. It also exposes all personnel—regardless of branch, duties, combat, or other experience—to situations that carry significant physical and mental health risk.
THERE IS A DISCONNECT BETWEEN VETERANS AND NON-VETERANS
Many veterans feel out of place within the civilian world and a disconnect with more traditional students. They may feel isolated, especially given how their military experience shapes their worldview and civilian life pursuits.
Some stereotypes persist on both sides. Veterans may perceive that younger students lack the worldliness and experience they possess. Likewise, non-veterans may carry societal misconceptions about veterans that have unfortunately gained currency through depictions of veterans in popular culture. They may assume that political beliefs among veterans are all the same. In actuality and fairness, no group is monolithic and the unfortunate byproduct of both veterans and non-veterans is a lack of cultural humility, which provides an opportunity to gain mutual respect and learn from one another.
STAFF SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH MILITARY CULTURE
It is important that professionals serving student veterans understand their unique experiences and needs; otherwise myths, stereotypes, or misunderstandings can create barriers to important services. Education in veteran culture provides context to understand and identify needs, to communicate more effectively, and to recognize what services and benefits should be offered.