With thousands of soldiers re-entering civilian life after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of them may choose to use their GI Bill benefits and head back to the classroom. The influx of servicemembers may create a unique classroom dynamic that many professors have not yet had to deal with, and some colleges and universities are taking steps to ready all members of the campus for these changes. Georgetown University recently offered a program to help its instructors prepare, Stars and Stripes reports.
Georgetown hosted its first Vet Ally event, which welcomed about 70 faculty members to talk about their past experiences and also discuss common complaints from veteran students. Organizers also went over basic military terms that could help them better understand the culture. Georgetown administrators say the need for such programs is especially high right now, as the school has already seen a growth in the number of veterans in class to about 500.
"The professors know stuff on how to deal with veterans day to day, help them with basic issues that come up in class," David Shearman, coordinator of the school's veterans office, told the publication. "But they don't always know why students joined the military, what serving overseas really means, what they mean when they talk about a FOB [Forward Operating Base]."
Georgetown is not alone
While Georgetown is the latest institution to take steps to foster a welcoming environment, it is certainly not the only school to do so. At San Diego State University, for instance, veteran students have many programs that are designed specifically for them. There are classes only for servicemembers as well as a center in the student services building primarily for vets, according to The New York Times. The move is a smart one, especially since San Diego has one of the highest concentrations of servicemembers in the country.
"It's definitely nice to be around a bunch of guys who've been in the same situation, chewed the same dirt, been around the block," Andrew Lovick, who served for four years in the Marines, told the Times "We're the same demographic. It's kind of hard relating to someone who's 18 and their parents are paying for everything."
More education necessary
While veterans have considerable benefits available to help them head to school, many are not aware of what they have. In fact, a recent study from the Department of Veterans Affairs found more than 40 percent of post-9/11 veterans do not know they qualify for education benefits.