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Student Veterans

 

Supporting University of Minnesota student veterans

An overview for faculty & staff

Contents

Introduction: The need for services on campus

This fall, thousands of military members, many of whom were deployed overseas, returned to Minnesota. Many of these individuals have or will seek to use the education benefits they have earned from the military at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

For most veterans the transition from military life to the comforts and challenges of home will be fast, but not simple. Most veterans will face these challenges and handle them well, but some veterans may have a difficult time transitioning back to civilian life, especially life on campus.

Like any other community of students at the University, returning Marines, soldiers, airmen, sailors, and coastguardsmen will need our respect and support. This includes consideration of their unique circumstances and experiences. In particular, this group will need faculty and staff who are willing to help them through the complexities of admission, registration and the return to an academic setting. If working on campus, they will also need employers willing to be patient as they wrestle to regain the skills they once knew.

The University of Minnesota would like to create an environment where veterans can access the resources they need to transition successfully from military life to student life, and beyond. The information below is not exhaustive and certainly does not represent the experience of every veteran. The purpose of this information is to build a general understanding of the issues many veterans face as they return home, to provide some advice for respectfully acknowledging their experiences, and to promote awareness of the on-campus resources available for veterans so that we can support their academic success at the University of Minnesota.

Issues faced in the transition home**

All service members, whether or not they have seen combat, face a major transition when they return from military to civilian and/or college life. Particular issues may include:

  • Alienation. Military members are returning from an intense and close community built on common experience. They can feel alienated in the University environment, where people may not seem to understand the difficulties military members faced or the challenges they endured. In addition, some service members who are returning to college after military service will be older than many other new students and have different priorities.
  • Family/relationships. Veterans return home to families who have had to learn to make due with their absence. The transition can involve difficult adjustments for all involved, including the children of military members, some of whom are students at the University of Minnesota. It is important to remember that, because the lives of these returning service members touch so many Minnesotans, the impact of their transition home will be widely felt in our community.
  • Education. Many of the issues veterans will face are common to nontraditional students as they return to school after years away and re-learn their academic habits and skills. Veterans may have an additional adjustment to make, e.g., because the routines of military life are regimented, they can more easily become frustrated by the less structured academic life. While in the military, these veterans may have made life or death decisions and now their decisions are about keeping up with class assignments. Some veterans may feel their responsibilities as a student are less important or significant which may lead to a lack of effort or involvement.
  • Mental health and disabilities. It should not be assumed that all returning veterans suffer from serious mental health issues. However, anxiety issues related to deployment are common. Some veterans are also making a physical transition, learning to live with new disabilities. Strong and supportive communities can ease the transition for all of these veterans, as can ensuring that veterans are aware of the appropriate resources. Veterans can learn more about all of the resources available to them (including mental and physical health resources, employment services, and much more) from the Veterans Resource Office in 320 Science Teaching & Student Services.

**Information adapted from presentations given by Minnesota Army National Guard Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel John Morris, with additional information from other military members and veterans.

Needs & resources

Community support is invaluable when it comes to easing the transition of military members into student life. With the help of the Veterans Advisory Committee, we've compiled some helpful advice on how to welcome veterans, and to respectfully acknowledge their experiences.

University Veterans Services

Veterans can contact University Veterans Services for information ranging from veterans education benefits to a wide range of additional resources, benefits, and information related to mental and physical health, employment services, resources for families, and more. Veterans Services staff encourage one-on-one consultations. Faculty and staff may also contact staff with questions related to veterans' issues.

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