Working with Student Veterans:
Exploring Recent Research on Best Practices
Over a quarter of a million veterans are currently enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities, and a quarter million more have applied for GI Bill education benefits. In total, nearly 2 million military personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are eligible for the 2009 Post-9/11 GI Bill.
In many ways, CSU is well-situated to respond to the needs of this student population; we have earned a "veteran-friendly" designation and have initiated efforts to identify and reduce barriers to veterans' educational goals, to assist veterans as they transition from active duty to college life, and to provide timely and accurate information about veterans' benefits and services.
As we continue to strengthen programs we need to focus our efforts at the pedagogical level. According to a 2010 NASPA report, student-veterans often report a sense of isolation on campus and frustration with traditional students: they express concern about entering into a potentially liberal college culture that may conflate anti-war sentiment with anti-military sentiment, and they can face difficulty finding mentors amongst faculty whose values may differ significantly from their own. Not only are some student-veterans struggling with financial pressures and dealing with physical and mental health disabilities (including the "signature wounds" of TBI and PTSD), they also share the challenges many nontraditional students face, such as childcare, "relearning" study skills and understanding (often unspoken) academic expectations. Only a well-informed faculty can understand and address such challenges to ensure retention and degree-completion.
About the Course Leaders:Lisa Langstraat:
Lisa Langstraat has been directly involved with teaching of student-veteran cohorts in first-year composition at CSU and has worked closely with some on writing and research projects. She grew up as a "military brat," the daughter of a senior Army non-commissioned officer who served in Vietnam.Sue Doe
Sue Doe is a military spouse for the final 15 years of her partner's military career, taught at several colleges and universities around the country during Army duty assignments. Immediately prior to her appointment at CSU, she served on the civilian faculty at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She has worked closely with student-veterans on the campus of CSU, including the teaching of 50-50 split sections of first-year composition which are evenly divided between student-veterans and civilian students. Her father served as a combat engineer in WWII.Christina Sutton
Christina Sutton is a long-time instructor in the English Department who works to tap into what student-veterans offer to the courses they take. She likes working individually with student-veterans to help them figure how they can use their military experiences to write more effectively in their classes.