- Creating a Veteran-Friendly Campus: Strategies for Transition and Success
With the growing number of veterans returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and entering the college classroom, Creating a Veteran-Friendly Campus: Strategies for Transition and Success by editors Robert Ackerman and David DiRamio is a timely piece. [End Page 374] The editors provide a focused publication regarding the context, challenges, and best practices in developing campus-based strategies for this burgeoning population. Ackerman and DiRamio explained their intentions succinctly:
The purpose with which we approached this project was to share information and programmatic initiatives as a way of encouraging campus leaders to seriously and creatively become involved with students on their campuses who are also veterans. Such efforts would include identifying the needs of students and providing resources so that they can successfully achieve their academic goals.(p. 1)
The authors of each of the 10 chapters used historical knowledge and current trends within the veteran college student population to offer practical suggestions and areas of future research. In the first four chapters, authors discussed the transition from preparing for combat, to combat, to returning from combat. Chapter one’s authors Robert Ackerman, David DiRamio, and Regina Garza Mitchell as well as chapter three’s authors Corey Rumann and Florence Hamrick present research and key considerations regarding the transition to college as a veteran. In chapter 2, Mark Bauman concisely described a 3-step process for National Guard and reserve veterans. The first step of pre-mobilization involves preparation for combat. During this time, college students are forced to withdraw from their classes, often without knowing how long until they deploy for war. The second step of separation includes the physical disconnection between a student and the campus. Finally, students enter the final step of return where they readjust to the United States and their college campus’ culture. Several of the authors throughout the book discussed the high incidence of post traumatic stress disorder among veterans on college campuses.
Perhaps the book’s greatest contribution to understanding the complexities of the veteran student population is Margaret Baechtold and Danielle De Sawal’s chapter 4 on Meeting the Needs of Women Veterans. The authors overlaid identity development theory with the unique experiences of women within a primarily male military force. Practitioners are encouraged to help women veterans explore their new identity as a student and civilian and to refrain from questions about their war experiences that may produce strong emotions.
The second section of the book, chapters 5 through 8, highlighted campuses that have developed programs and services intended to make higher education more veteran-friendly. In chapter 5, Jayne Lokken, Donald Pfeffer, James McAuley, and Christopher Strong explained veteran-friendly as “marked efforts made by individual campuses to identify and remove barriers to the educational goals of veterans, to create smooth transitions from military life to college life, and to provide information about available benefits and services” (p. 45). The authors detailed Minnesota’s comprehensive approach to enhancing the veteran experience from the state to local campus level. Chapter 6, authored by Teresa Johnson, provided information about Appalachian State’s efforts to assist veterans returning from Desert Storm and Desert Shield in the early 1990s. Lessons learned as a result of their efforts provide practitioners with key ideas to consider for current veterans (e.g., keeping in touch via email while a student is overseas, adjusting campus policies to remove unnecessary obstacles). In chapters 7 and 8, authors Deborah Ford, Pamela Northrup, and Lusharon Wiley and John Summerlot, Sean-Michael Green and Daniel Parker, respectively, remind higher education professionals to consider the needs of veterans’ families and how to construct effective veteran student organizations. [End Page 375]
The final chapters, 9 and 10, explained the national and federal initiatives that exist to support veteran college students. In chapter 9, David DiRamio and Michele Spires discussed the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Severely Injured Military Veterans: Fulfilling Their Dream. “The project...