TThe National Survey of Student Engagement recently released its 2010 results, which found that, on average, student veterans âÄúperceive[d] lower levels of campus supportâÄù than did the rest of the student body.
Student veterans have different characteristics âÄî and thus different support needs âÄî than students in the aggregate. It is in these differences that one can understand why veterans feel less supported.
On average, veterans are more likely to be older, transfer students, enrolled part time or have a disability. These are all characteristics that may make for a weaker connection to the University of Minnesota community. Moreover, veterans are also more likely to be juggling increased work hours and family responsibilities âÄî while still studying the same amount as non-veteran counterparts. They are likely to need assistance navigating the complexities of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill.
All of these characteristics require greater-than-average outreach and support services from the University. As more veterans return from the war fronts and take advantage of the new GI Bill, universities across the country should expand veteransâÄô services accordingly to make sure all veterans feel like they are at home all the way through graduation.
The University of Minnesota will honor its roughly 700 veterans today with Student Veterans Appreciation Day activities on the Northrop Plaza. This is a great way to support veterans âÄî but itâÄôs not enough. The spirit of VeteranâÄôs Appreciation Day should translate into year-round action.