Making the Transition from Troop to Student: Returning Veterans Consider Resources and Programming at Higher Educational Institutions
As the country concludes more than a decade of fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, thousands of recently discharged troops are returning home. Many veterans are faced with the dilemma of what to do upon their return.
In an effort to assist veterans with returning to school, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (Post-9/11 Bill) was enacted. This became the most significant increase in education benefits for service members and veterans since the original GI Bill of 1944 that was responsible for the educations of doctors, engineers, businessmen, actors, authors and teachers while offering vocational training to millions more.1 The Post 9-11 GI Bill is designed to provide a similar higher education incentive for the more than 2 million service members who have served in our military forces since September 11, 2001.
The bill also offers assistance in covering tuition and fees for in-state public undergraduate higher education for those veterans who are eligible. Private institutions, graduate education and out-of-state tuition institutions are able to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs where the VA will match institutional contributions to cover added costs.1,2
In December 2012, legislation was passed adding the eligibility for the benefit of 85,000 members of the National Guard and Reserves Troops and further enhanced the applicability of the benefit to vocational training.
Making the Transition from Troop to Student
Higher education institutions need to know how to address the needs of student veterans returning to school and recognize that they are distinctly different from those of the traditional student. With more veterans enrolling to colleges and universities, higher educational facilities are making the adjustments in their curriculum, community support and communication initiatives to best serve this growing demographic.
Typically, student veterans are considered non-traditional students because they are more likely to be older and many have some college credit that they may have earned while in the military.1,2 Because they are a diverse population with a vast range of experiences, their educational experience will be much different than other non-veteran students. Colleges and universities, including National Louis University, across the country are putting programs and services in place to ease the transition from troop to student.
When choosing the appropriate college or university for their educational goals, Veterans should be aware of important and available resources and programs and that will contribute to their success.