UWGB is ranked No. 26 in the Midwest for 2015 Best Colleges for Veterans. So it is not surprising that last week the Chancellor’s Council on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence held a workshop on “Veterans Reintegration from Combat to the Classroom.” It was packed full of highly valuable information that each faculty and staff should be aware of in supporting our veteran students on campus.
For those who are not familiar with the Inclusive Excellence program, it is UW System initiative to create engagement at all levels and to develop a culture and learning environment accessible and sensitive to all. The core of its mission being to: ” … fostering greater diversity, equity, inclusion, and accountability at every level of university life.”
The UWGB Inclusive Excellence initiative offers topic specific workshops throughout the academic year to enhance awareness and responsiveness to particular issues and student populations. Additionally, they also offer a three tiered Inclusivity & Equity Certificate Program designed to create leaders throughout the University body in diversity and inclusivity issues.
This particular event focused on increasing awareness of veteran student needs and provided a platform of suggestions and resources for approaching these issues. The presentation began by introducing our campus student veteran leaders. They shared an overview of the current veteran student.
Key points included:
- 80% of veteran students are male, over half are non-traditional students with families
- Faculty & staff awareness of readjustment needs are critical
- Proactive planning like a veteran friendly syllabus is very helpful to veteran students
- Not all veterans have been in combat
- Each veteran’s experience is unique
- Faculty & staff knowledge of veteran resources (also slide 27 of presentation) can be key to supporting veteran student success
- Veteran students can be leaders and great assets in the classroom
One way that these needs are being addressed successfully on campus is through the Vets 4 Vets student organization. This student org reaches out to new veteran students, provides 1:1 peer mentoring, and promotes veteran friendly activities on campus.
One of their most cherished accomplishments are the relationships they have developed and the new At Ease Veteran & Service Member Student Lounge in MAC 124 (see blog photo above).
“Before UWGB had the lounge I would walk the halls between classes. I didn’t really know anyone. Now that we have the lounge I have a place to go and relax and hang out with other veterans on campus. The friendships that are formed there will stay with me after I graduate.”
Terry Spranger, President Vets4Vets
Overall this workshop was a huge arsenal of resources – so for those of you who couldn’t make it check out the links and reach out if you have further questions. Elaina Koltz is our go-to for veteran related issues on campus.
As the spouse of a combat disabled Army veteran the efforts of the Inclusive Excellence program are encouraging and appreciated. Look for my upcoming blog on my personal experience at UWGB as a student and spouse of a veteran.
Ashley Damp, MSW
CATL Program Assistant
UWGB Alumna ’09