University Business November/December 2019 - 33

VICTORIES
FOR
VETS
Programs and practices that help former service members
adjust to campus life

By Matt Zalaznick

CELEBRATING SERVICE-Student veterans host a tailgate party at the University of South Florida. To support these
students, the school's Office of Veteran Success has grown from two staff members to a dozen full- and part-time employees
over the past 10 years.

V

eterans bring life experiences to
college classrooms that may be
unknown to many traditional-age
students. Besides being older and having
to balance jobs and families, vets share a
tradition of service and sacrifice that's as
robust as any other culture on campus,
advocates say.
Yet, former service members may
have a hard time transitioning from the
mission-oriented structure of the military
to a more open, less rigid world of campus choices. "In the military, you know
what you're going to do every day-it's
all mapped out for you-and then you
come to a university and it's chaos," says
Mark Kinders, vice president for public affairs at the University of Central

UniversityBusiness.com

Oklahoma, which Military Times ranked
among the country's top 10 campuses for
veterans.
That's why faculty at a growing
number of institutions are learning to
improve their communications with
veterans, while administrators ramp up
tutoring, financial and career planning,
social programming, and other services
for these students.
"Veterans are no different than any
other group of students," Kinders says. "If
you get them engaged beyond the classroom, their likelihood of being retained
to graduation goes up significantly."
Launching yoga, promoting diversity
At Central Oklahoma, a federally funded

student success program called SALUTE
encourages veterans to spearhead campus
service projects.
In 2019, veterans started militaryspecific yoga classes through the campus
counseling center to help their peers with
mental health and anxiety. For a 2018
"Heritage Series," former service members of different ethnicities got invited
to talk about how diversity has impacted
their lives in and outside the military.
"SALUTE takes them from being a
veteran who happens to be a student, to
a student who happens to be a vet," says

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