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2012-13 Fall VKC Newsletter Volume 13-01 From the Veteran’s Knowledge Community Chair

One thing I want make sure we all do I to expand our membership and advisory committees so that we’re not a collection of regional individuals doing all of the work. Time is precious and we should try to share our workloads for NASPA to make sure we can sustain the level of energy required to advocate for our student veteran populations. Finally, we’re looking for programming support throughout the year for the annual conference, regional conferences, and other areas where we can impact the good work being done by so many on behalf of student veterans. I’ll be reaching out to you frequently to participate as program reviewers, to contribute to newsletters, or to lend a hand at various times. We should seek to expand our circle of involved people by contacting veterans’ services offices in our region to join NASPA as professionals to benefit from all of the good work we will undertake over the next two years.

By John D. Mikelson

As we embark on a new academic year and renewed focus on student veterans, I am enthusiastic about beginning my term as the chair of NASPA’s Veteran’s Knowledge Community. I follow behind some great leaders who really got NASPA jump-started into thinking about student veterans and want to thank Michelle Cyrus and Katrina Whitney for their service to student veterans over the last two years.

I’m always available for perspective and conversation regarding veterans so drop me a line @

The coming two years will be exciting as we embark on changes to the Post 9-11 GI Bill and initiatives like the Memorandum of Agreement and the Presidential Executive Order for greater accountability of institutions in serving student veterans. Throughout this time I anticipate NASPA becoming one of the nation’s leading voices on student veteran issues, best practices, and particularly research and scholarly activity.

Region VI Spotlight - Sacramento State and University’s Veteran Success Center By Sara Reed

The Veterans Success Center (VSC) at Sacramento State University has been a work in progress, taking close to 5 years to build in to the strong program it is today. Originally in a small space with few resources for students, the VSC has since expanded to its current location which

My approach is to be an information conduit for everyone in the community that works with student veterans and I am open to all ideas to help share and exchange information to best serve our population. 1

From Region V – Veteran Culture

provides a study and lounge space for veteran students at a central location on campus. Currently supporting 1,480 veterans and dependents of disabled veterans on campus, the staff consists of veterans from a variety of students, as well as student workers who are either veterans or dependents of veterans. The VSC offers a variety of support programs for veterans, including “Veterans Summer Success Academy” and a variety of student-led groups. Additionally, the VSC works to educate staff and faculty on the needs and challenges of veterans, offering a 90-minute “Veteran Friendly Zone” basic training course that covers three main areas: academic and social issues for veterans entering Sacramento State, areas of concern affecting today’s student veterans and knowledge of veteran’s benefits and the role they play for student veterans. The wellrounded approach of helping students, staff and faculty learn about veterans, the challenges and the benefits are helping the program grow stronger each semester.

By Roger Perkins (Culture – the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age groups - the youth culture, the pop culture, etc.)

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding Veterans in the past few years, mostly due to the reality of a decade of war. A lot of that has been about Veterans - those men and women who served in the military and are separating - as thee re-enter civilian life seeking education and employment. But what exactly does that term – Veteran – encompass? There are many definitions for Veteran, most centering on determining eligibility for one government benefit or another. At the University of Utah we define a Veteran differently – we focus on the service, not what you get for it. Our definition of a Veteran is “Any student, alumni, faculty, or staff member of the University of Utah who has been or currently is a military member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard (active or reserve), or National Guard of any state; or has separated from these services with a discharge other than Dishonorable is considered to be a Veteran.” This definition honors anyone who served with the exception of those very few who committed serious crimes and were stripped of the honors by the military through a court martial. It doesn’t matter if you were a force recon Marine in Afghanistan or a mechanic in Baumholder, or a cook on the USS Reagan; your intentions when you took your oath are valued and respected. This is part of what ties us all together as a culture.

Jeff Weston, Director of the Veterans Success Center (VSC) at Sacramento State University gives credit to all levels for the success of the VSC, “The driving force was the entire University from the president down. I was very lucky to have the support of the entire university. I give the most credit to our student veterans!”

For more information on Sacramento State’s VSC, go to:


Through the process of starting our Veterans Support Center (and my own experiences as a Veteran) I have found that one of the opinions of some who did not serve is that Veterans are a group who, for a period, worked for the same employer. No different than Wal-Mart or General Motors employees – large organization with thousands of people. Of course, Veterans know it's far, far more than that. Understanding the depth and breadth of the experience is beyond most that have not raised their hand and taken the oath. Grasping the complete transformation of an individual from a civilian to a service member and eventually to a Veteran is so complex that it simply defies description for most that haven't done it. Veterans understand this; most civilians don't. This is what Veterans mean when they say someone "Gets it" in regard to being a Veteran. It is not simply a matter of working for the government in a military capacity. It requires changes in lifestyle, morals, ethics, and so much more. It's a life change. I was trying to explain to a faculty member at my school why he really could not punish a National Guard soldier for missing class due to a call-up by the governor for storm cleanup. He said “So you expect me to believe that her job is somehow different than someone working at a grocery store?” Once I explained that, for one thing, it was against Federal law for a soldier to disobey orders, the difference began to sink in. Until then, however, that’s how he saw it - just another job where an excuse could be made for not showing up for work, like “I couldn’t miss class.” The demands of duty are far stronger and more strictly enforced for us than for a civilian but that understanding often simply is not present.

Part of the reason so little is understood about Veteran culture is because so few in our society are actually Veterans. Numbers vary but only approximately 7% of the overall living US population is Veterans, covering pre-WWII to today. Not necessarily a bad thing but one that limits the exposure to the impact of military life on the individual and one that sets the Veteran apart as someone who has shouldered the burden of defending the nation in a literal way. Thus, because of that lack of exposure, understanding is lost. Add to that the undercurrent of stereotyping of the military (couldn't make it in civilian life, less educated, etc.) and a desire to understand is sometimes absent. In my experience I have run across this several times where a normally educated individual will go with the stereotypical idea of a Veteran rather than with facts (92% of Veterans over 25 have a high school degree compared to 86% of the overall population. 26% have a bachelor’s degree compared to 28% of the overall population.) simply because they are convinced of the truth of that stereotype. In academia an individual who understands the scientific method of research will ignore that process in forming conclusions about Veterans when they would never consider doing that when determining a conclusion within their discipline (to give one example). Even if you were the worse soldier, Marine, sailor, or airman who ever walked the face of the Earth you are altered by your service. You have different words for things (latrine, cover, etc.), you have a different view of work (duty as compared to just a job), you have been in a position where not doing a job simply was not an option. Love it or hate it, you worked and lived in that 3

an ‘age group’. After a service member separates, of course, time marches on. You have Veterans from 17 to 100 who are out of the service, but while they serve they fall within those parameters. Recently I watched as a 20-year old Afghanistan Veteran, a 60-year old Vietnam Veteran, and an 87 year old WW II Veteran sat down and discussed whatever was on their minds over a cup of coffee. Because of the common tie of service age wasn't much of an issue in the discussion or how they treated each other. They were all Veterans and that seemed to be enough to establish a level of trust, respect, and acceptance that you wouldn't normally find with such disparate individuals. Did I mention that one was a woman? Doesn't really matter which one. It made no difference at all in the flow of discussion.

environment for a significant period. And you gambled that you would not have to do anything that would cost you your life in that process, though you also promised to take that risk if necessary. No other job requires this and it changes you forever. Firefighter and police can quit rather than take a life-threatening risk (though they seldom do). The military cannot and it changes you. But does this fit the definition of a culture? Let’s look at the specifics - the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age groups. What behaviors are common among Veterans? An enhanced work ethic is one. A sense of service over self is another. Both of these are reinforced by shared experiences where they were applied in a long-term situation as well as training and tradition where these characteristics are reinforced to the point of habit.

So when you speak of Veterans at your school you need to understand and embrace the fact that you are speaking of a cultural group, not simply people with shared experience. True, they are from different ethnicities, races, religions (or no religion); they are gay and straight, republican and democrat, Leos and Virgos, and any combination you care to choose. But they have that one, all-encompassing thing in common. Service. We all did basic. We all focused on a mission. We all watched each other’s backs, whether we liked each other or not. Mainly, we all stepped forward when others stood fast. And that does make a difference. We are all Veterans and continue to, in one way or another, reflect that experience and try to find ways to serve. It's part of our culture.

Are Veterans a ‘particular social, ethnic, or age group’? Well, yes and no. Outside of the military they come from varied social, ethnic, and age groups. As Veterans they do, despite the many differences in background, share common experiences, motivations, values as a group that can be described as social. Age groups? That is actually a function of time. Within the military, however, the ages are defined by law. How long can someone serve in the active military? 17 is the youngest at which you can enlist (with parental consent) and you can stay for 30 years, a couple years longer with congressional approval (this only happens for generals and senior NCOs in key positions). So that age span for active military is around 47 years old – sometimes up to 50 – for active duty. That constitutes

Like the old commercial said - "It's More Than Just a Job". 4

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This group has various leadership conferences and scholarships that help veterans succeed in their postsecondary career. It also list scholarships and other financial resources that veterans can take advantage of is more than the GI Bill.

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Unfortunately, it is uncovered that many of the assistance that is available to veterans do not come in the form of programs but rather consist of information on how to apply for veteran financial assistance. For example, on the Florida’s Department of Veteran Affairs website, there is a detail list of Federal educational and vocational opportunities for veterans ( This site is not associated with any current academic institutions. Thereby limiting a veteran’s information on academic programs coming from the institution of higher education they go to.

From Region III – Assisting Student Veterans By Lewis Makissa

Since the tragic events of 9/11 and the War on Terror that followed, many veterans have availed themselves of the opportunity provided by the Post 9/11 GI Bill. This created a greater need of services for veterans’ transitioning from combat to postsecondary education. It also requires a need to evaluate current services that are provided by colleges and universities for veterans. Unfortunately, the information on veterans pursuing postsecondary education is not consistently available and differs from higher education institutions. A veteran then faces the fact their future academic career is depended on what type of veteran affairs office is available at their university.

It is recommended that veteran affairs offices give veterans with as much assistance with transitioning from combat to the academic sector as possible. Additionally, view these veterans as individuals with a willingness to serve proudly again if given the proper tools to do so.

It should be noted that there are other organizations that exist that are not affiliated with the Department of Veteran Affairs or the veteran affairs offices that assist veterans academically. These organizations are not linked with any particular higher education institutions. For instance, the Student Veterans of America, whose mission is the following, “to provide military veterans with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and following graduation” (

From Region VI – Disabled Veterans Reintegration and Education Project By Amanda Kraus

The University of Arizona Disability Resource Center is pleased to share findings from its Disabled Veterans Reintegration and Education Project (DVRE). The U of A managed the DVRE July 2008-2012. The ultimate goal of this Congressionallydirected project, administered through the 5

Department of Education, was to develop research-based recommendations for higher education regarding programs, services and strategies that would contribute to the an inclusive campus environment for disabled student veterans. The project utilized a multifaceted approach to explore the impact of disability within the student veterans’ community and develop implications for practice in higher education. Region II - Spotlight By Denise Rodak

For eight weeks during the spring 2012 semester a group of Montclair State University student veterans gathered in a classroom. They talked about their military experiences, shared stories, laughed, and oh, they wrote and recorded a song.

Findings and recommendations are presented on the DVRE’s updated website. The DVRE had three priority areas: Serving Students; Increasing Awareness; and Promoting Wellness. Each area summarizes initiatives, offers recommendations, and provides pertinent resources for campus practitioners working with student veterans.

Montclair State University is always looking for ways to help our veteran and military students “find their voice” as they transition from combat to campus. Voices of Valor did just that for a group of student veterans. The students who participated in Voices of Valor came from different backgrounds, different branches of service, and different places in their academic career. However, by the end of the eight weeks they sang, as one, and created “Lost in the Words.”

Research methods and findings are also synthesized. Project staff conducted 30 semi-structured, individual interviews with student veterans to understand their experiences with higher education and the impact of their injuries or disabilities. Findings are organized into themes that focus on identity and community dynamics. Additionally, there is a Faculty and Staff Awareness Module designed to shed light on veterans’ experiences’ leading up to higher education, and key characteristics that pertain to their roles as students. Resources are provided on creating inclusive learning environments for student veterans.

In 2011, Music For All Seasons® launched a program called Voices of Valor®, a project designed to address the challenges facing veterans returning to civilian life. Over the course of the program, six to ten veterans meet weekly for eight weeks in ninety-minute sessions. Each session is facilitated by musician leaders and a psychology mentor. Participants explore ways to use music for relaxation and stress reduction; discuss their favorite music and why it is important to them; explore what makes lyrics powerful; how to write down their stressors and turn their writing into lyrics. They share their writings and cowrite lyrics; set the lyrics to music, create and record, in a professional recording studio, a co-written song which expresses

For questions about the University of Arizona Disabled Veterans Reintegration and Education Project, please contact: Amanda Kraus, Ph. D., Assistant Director, Disability Resources 6

their individual and group feelings. As a result of a major grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this program is provided free of charge to all veterans. No musical experience of any kind is necessary.

The Journal of Military Experience

The program at Montclair, led by musicians Jennifer Lampert and Julio Fernandez, along with psychology mentor John Grady, was a huge success. Says one participant, “The most important aspect of Voices of Valor has been letting myself know that it’s OK to talk about something that happened to me. We are told to ‘keep it in the house.’ This program has helped me create a new, bigger house.”

By Brett Morris

The Journal of Military Experience” cordially invites all NASPA members to put the research component of our most recent volume to work helping veterans. We believe you will find several of the research articles of particular use as supporters of veterans in higher education. Thanks to the generosity of the Eastern Kentucky University Foundation this research is now available for download through the Encompass digital repository here:

Brian Dallow, co-founder and executive director of Music For All Seasons, agrees. “We were honored to bring Voices of Valor to the campus of a major university that provides such veteran-friendly programs to its students. Montclair has proven to be an exceptional and enthusiastic partner with us in providing this important service to the veteran students on campus.”

We also invite you to submit research of your own, stories, poetry, and artwork to our third volume. Please encourage student and non-student veterans alike to submit to our journal. We work one-on-one with each veteran, providing mentorship and review, helping them put tell their stories on their own terms. A complete call for submissions can be found here:

It is important for veteran and military students to talk about their experiences in a safe, non-judging environment. The Voices of Valor program provided that sanctuary, while at the same time giving the students an opportunity to laugh and work together toward a common goal. The chance to work with professional musicians and record a CD is a once in a lifetime experience. If you like what you see and would like to read the creative works not yet available in our archive, please consider purchasing a copy of JME 2 through Amazon at this link: . (http://tiny.c c/w8vbiw)

For more information on Montclair State University’s Office of Veteran and Military Resources, Voices of Valor, or to listen to “Lost in the Words” by MMSLL-The Elite Five, click on the following links. 7

generation of returning veterans, we will not have a comprehensive body of research and data to be able to serve student veterans as intentionally a we might like to. Our work, while providing some great ideas for current programming for student veterans is really setting the foundation for the next generation of student veterans, likely to come to our campuses in about 15-20 years. The lack of research and scholarly activity from the Vietnam era through 2005 was conspicuously lacking in value and volume to help higher education professionals understand and serve student veterans. Moving forward, we must take the long view to ensure this problem is resolved by focusing on understanding our student veterans in a comprehensive manner and sharing our lessons with each other so that we can produce useful tools for coming generations. A possible beginning to that is the edited volume produced by many friends of NASPA, and led by senior editor and past NASPA faculty fellow Flo Hamrick, over the last two years and available for purchase in November 2012. While not a short read, this volume likely has useful information for practitioners to consider from a variety of perspectives depending on the background and needs of the reader.

The JME is a not-for-profit endeavor that simply seeks to give veterans a voice through the creative arts. When coupled with the efforts of our scholars, we hope, in our own way, to help bridge the gap between military and civilian cultures.

From the Research and Publications Representative By David Vacchi

Over the next two years, I hope to bring

The following are excerpts from the publication notes on Called to Serve:

together best practices, publications, and research to share with you all. One of the best ways to do that is to send me a note with what you see as best practices on your campus. Hopefully with a few years of gathering best practices, we can produce a thoughtful document which highlights the best of the best of what can help veterans of this generation, and the next. While we are all recently focused on the current 8

campus efforts in serving veterans, planning additional services or programs, and— perhaps most importantly—coordinating the efforts of potentially disparate campus-based services and programs with communitybased or government-sponsored veterans’ programs, services, and affiliated groups.” Called to Serve: A Handbook on Student Veterans and Higher Education Florence A. Hamrick, Corey B. Rumann ISBN: 978-1-1181-7676-4

Save the Date for what is becoming one of the better networking and learning environments for student veteran scholars and practitioners: the Louisville Veteran Symposium for Higher Education.

Hardcover 352 pages, November 2012, Jossey-Bass “Over the past several years, veteran enrollment in universities, community colleges, and vocational programs has increased dramatically, with over a quarter million student veterans taking advantage of military-related educational benefits packages, which have become one of the few remaining federal sources of grant funds for students pursuing higher education. Yet existing literature on the topic harkens back to Vietnam era issues and practices, and current administrators and faculty members likely have little experience serving this population. Significant changes in higher education and wartime military personnel policies in the last 30 years necessitate a fresh look at how colleges and universities can best respond to the needs of student veterans.

5th Annual Veteran Symposium February 11 and 12, 2013

Building upon the long history of educating veterans, this comprehensive volume offers the most up-to-date scholarship and practical program guidance to help student affairs professionals, academic administrators, and faculty understand, serve, and support student veterans. It offers recommendations for enhancing and strengthening current

Louisville, Kentucky This symposium will be beneficial for staff including academic advising, admissions, counseling and student health, disability resources, financial aid, residence life, registration and student affairs. 9

Participate in discussions with representatives from nationally recognized campus programs and veterans organizations in the U.S. on programs and resources designed to help your students.

for future newsletter stories, best practices, publications you’ve read, or research you’ve heard about. We’re all in this together to help our student veterans.

Registration for Louisville should open in October or November 2012.

Recently I attended and presented at a conference at the University of Central Florida, Completing the Mission: Retaining and Graduating Student Veterans. This is a new conference and one that offers similar impact to the Louisville Veteran Symposium. As materials from this conference are released, I will be sure to post these on the NASPA VKC website. Registration for this conference will begin in the spring of 2013 and the conference is in early August. The hotel and travel for this conference are simple and affordable.

We need proposals for sessions at the NASPA 2013 conference! The deadline is September 7th, 2012. But most importantly we need your attendance at this important conference. Over the last two years there has been at least one student veteran focused session during every time block and this makes this a very valuable conference to attend to connect with other student veteran professionals and to hear what other campuses are doing for student veterans. Go to to register today!

To contact me please send an e-mail to Please send ideas 10

VKC Fall 2012 newsletter  

Fall 2012 edition of the NASPA Veterans Knowledge Community newsletter