Many troops make a point to enroll in college after separating from service. And why wouldn't they? The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers considerable tuition assistance, and earning a degree can make it that much easier for them to find a civilian job. Yet, while there are undoubtedly advantages to going to school after the military, there are challenges that extend beyond payment. Older vets may not fit in with the students who came straight from high school, but many colleges are taking steps to accommodate the unique needs of their veteran students, according to Military Times.
Indiana sets an example
Veterans who have enrolled at Indiana University have many services at their disposal. In addition to traditional amenities such as assistance with financial aid and academic guidance, the school is also home to a Office of Veterans Support Services. The office gives students who have served overseas the chance to meet with classmates who have experienced the same thing.
"You have some students here who are 18, 19, who have never left the state of Indiana," Anthony Arnold, an Afghanistan vet, told the publication. "And their biggest concern is what they're wearing to the party Friday night. And then you have older students who have served in a war zone and fought in combat. And so their priorities are different."
Lessons to be learned
Indiana's legislature is in the process of approving a bill that would require schools to provide academic, career and financial counseling for veterans, and it's a move that states around the country should draw inspiration from. Already, some schools have taken steps to be more accommodating to veterans, a smart move especially as thousands of troops prepare to return home from Afghanistan. For instance, officials at Penn State University recently announced a plan that would provide servicemembers who have been honorably discharged with priority registration.
"They definitely deserve our gratitude, praise and admiration," said the school's president Rodney Erickson. "On a more practical note, our veteran students are tied to a set timeframe for degree completion, so this action provides them with the opportunity they need to gain an education."
Education important to vets
Servicemembers certainly are not letting their GI Bill benefits go to waste. According to statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs, in 2012 an estimated 500,000 people made use of the GI Bill.