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Business Officer Magazine

Four Steps Forward

Here’s what institutions can do to support returning veterans.

By Margo Vanover Porter

When asked why institutions should develop support services for returning veterans, Tanya Ang has a ready reply. (Read also "Educating a New Generation of Veterans" in the July/August 2015 issue of Business Officer magazine.)

"It's the right thing to do," says the director of veterans' programs, American Council on Education, Washington, D.C. "These students have sacrificed themselves for our country. The least we can do is participate in their re-acclimation from military service to civilian life. These students are hard workers and want to do well. They are motivated. The military culture focuses on completing mission. They want to complete [their programs] and get back into the workforce and get good jobs."

For institutions seeking to improve their military-related assistance to returning veterans, Ang offers a four-step plan:

Create a taskforce. Pull in all the key stakeholders on campus, she advises, so that you know what various offices are doing. "If you can consolidate resources and work collaboratively, you will be more effective and more informed about the issues," she says.

Enlist the advice of your military students. Ang recalls the phone conversation with a leader from an institution that built a great veterans center, held a grand opening, but not a single student showed up. "Did you ask your students what they needed?" Ang asked.  "We probably should," was the reply. 

Once the institution solicited input, the veterans' center took off and the students took a leadership role in its development, Ang says. 

Garner top-down support. It goes without saying that the president, provost, and high-level administrators must be willing to go to bat for the veterans on your campus. 

Communicate. Ang warns institutions that e-mail can't be the sole communication vehicle. "Students get so many e-mails that they stop looking at them," she says. Instead, Ang recommends, putting an icon on the front page of your institution's website that—with a click—takes students to a veteran's page.

To access additional ACE information on student veterans, Ang encourages a visit to the following sites:

MARGO VANOVER PORTER covers higher education business issues for Business Officer.

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