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Serve Your Student Veterans’ Needs

Heather Salko, Esq.
May 2022
Provide a welcoming environment for student veterans and reduce your risk of discrimination.  

Create a welcoming, veteran-friendly environment at your college or university. Doing so can help avoid allegations of discrimination based on veteran status.

Take these actions to support thosewho leave the military and enroll in your undergraduate or graduate program:

Provide Information About Your Offerings

Identify services across campus you already provide student veterans. Consider establishing a student veterans office to provide a central location for information about veterans’ services.

Survey Your Institution’s Veterans About Their Experiences

Seek veterans’ feedback on services provided and ask about additional services they need. Their needs may vary based on their military role and experience. Use survey results to create or modify services and programs as needed for:

  • Orientation. Because student veterans tend to be older, have different life experiences than typical undergraduate students, and are used to a highly regimented atmosphere, consider offering customized orientation sessions. For student veterans who are used to a chain of command, a decentralized college campus may be confusing. Explain available offices and services. Consider creating a guide for these students.
  • Faculty and staff education. To help veterans feel welcome, educate faculty and staff on obstacles they face, the military-related language they’re used to, and the basics of post-traumatic stress disorder. For example, Virginia Commonwealth University trains its faculty and staff to be more sensitive to veterans’ needs and become volunteer resources.
  • Counseling center. Evaluate resources in the campus counseling center for limitations in dealing with psychological issues student veterans face. Counselors may require specialized training. Explore partnerships with community resources to fill in evaluation and treatment gaps. Develop a relationship, if possible, with the nearest Veterans Affairs (VA) facility.
  • Disability services. Many veterans who are not rated “disabled” by the VA system may still qualify for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as highlighted by the Department of Education in an FAQ. Conduct separate education and outreach sessions to help student veterans understand their rights and obligations under the ADA. Educate staff members on recognizing and dealing with common injuries affecting student veterans.
  • Career services. Veterans may be new to civilian employment and may not know how to translate their military skills ─ which are often specialized ─ to those skills employers need. Train staff to help student veterans identify and describe their skills for the civilian workforce. Offer specialized training in resume writing and interviewing. Identify and understand local job training programs available to veterans in your community.
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