- Called to Serve: A Handbook on Student Veterans and Higher Education ed. by Florence A. Hamrick & Corey B. Rumann
Called to Serve offers an important historical and practical understanding of college student veterans. As the book affirms, though enrollment of student veterans in higher education [End Page 94] is not new, the contemporary landscape of recent military conflicts and changing GI Bill policies have increased the number of veterans enrolling in college. This makes a book of this nature very timely.
The book consists of 12 chapters, edited by a variety of scholars and practitioners throughout the country. Chapter 1 offers a broad historical overview of the military and higher education in the United States. The chapter covers issues from the Morrill Act to the various iterations of the GI Bill. It also briefly reviews the various wars in which the U.S. has participated and the ways that colleges and universities have been used to pay homage to military heroes.
Chapter 2 helps us to better understand the political and legislative frameworks that affect policies and services to veterans and service members. This chapter offers a detailed description of the educational benefits provided to veterans-specifically the Post 9/11 GI Bill and other VA benefits available to service members. Readers must note however, that this book was written just before the military’s recent decision to cut tuition remission benefits to active duty service members. When this new policy change takes effect, it will impact part time students in particular.
Chapter 3 discusses activations, deployments, and returns. This chapter points to important transitional issues and demystifies the deployment cycle for nonmilitary professionals. Often, such experiences are not as simple as leaving, serving, and coming home. There is a complicated transition process that is important to understand.
Chapter 4 focuses on the enrollment patterns and student engagement issues affecting student veterans. Of particular significance is the attention paid to diverse learning styles and the need for higher education professionals to avoid solely focusing on reflective and high order thinking. This calls us to further our work on multiple intelligences, engaged pedagogy, and experiential learning. Additionally it requires thoughtfulness in how to effectively move student veterans forward in achieving significant reflective learning outcomes. The transition from a hierarchical, directive environment to an egalitarian and self directed learning environment like college is also discussed in this chapter. Brief characteristics of the population are also offered. Of particular interest is the disparity in accessing educational benefits between white men and men of color. This is a prime area for future research that merges issues of race, student engagement, and student veterans.
Chapter 5 offers a critical understanding of LGBT, gender, and racial issues. As with any college population, the intra-community experiences of service members are also diverse. The chapter covers topics like sexual assault among women, the historical disparity in GI Bill access among racial and ethnic veterans, and LGBTQ concerns. What is most beneficial about this chapter is its highlight of critical service needs and the challenges to offering them. The need for affirming and safe environments for student veterans is stressed. In this regard, the authors challenge higher education institutions to critically examine their lasting historical vestiges of hierarchy, racism, and sexism. The chapter offers many options to steward change such as community collaborations, offering child care, special career services, counseling services, and social support systems.
Chapter 6 examines student veterans with disabilities. According to the text, the current generation of veterans experience various forms of disability at a higher rate than in the past. A decade of war has undoubtedly produced a significant population of veterans with physical disabilities. But also, issues such as PTSD are important to understand. This chapter offers [End Page 95] several examples of best practices engaged by colleges and universities.
Chapter 7 offers hard data on issues of enrollment, transfer students, and degree completion. After providing a brief outline of each of these issues, the authors then provide a detailed...