Dedicated Space for Veterans
For institutions with a physical campus environment, a veteran-only space can be a key component of a successful veteran educational experience. Such dedicated spaces might include a veterans lounge, a veterans study area, or a veterans academic counseling center where this population of students can come to unwind, study, seek tutoring or staff assistance, and generally congregate with their peers.
Veteran spaces are often home to the school’s central point of contact for veterans, VA Work-Study students, student veteran organizations, peer mentors, study groups, and mental health and other support groups. Computers, printers, and other veteran-specific resources are often provided there by the school or donated by local veteran service organizations.
Why are dedicated spaces for veterans so important? Transitioning from battlefield to classroom often leaves veterans without the familiar camaraderie to which they have grown accustomed. A dependable and supportive environment is essential to the success veterans achieved during their military careers. So, a dedicated space offers a physical location where trust, support, and “brother/sisterhood” can be found and fostered in an academic environment.
ACE Veteran Success Jam participants indicated that asking veterans to simply “blend in” is not optimal. When asked why veterans struggle in college, some Jam participants felt that “civilians don’t understand me.” Reintegration into civilian life takes time and can be most successful when coupled with the opportunity to interact with other veterans experiencing similar situations. Offering a “safe” space provides a supportive climate whereby student veterans can meet, reflect, learn and participate in activities beyond the classroom. It is a win-win for all involved.
Institutions that lack a physical campus environment (such as online or distance learning universities) can still consider offering dedicated “spaces” for veteran students in the form of online chat rooms, web-based collaborative workspaces, etc.