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UI finds ways to support veterans

BY MICHELLE KIM | AUGUST 27, 2013 5:00 AM

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The U.S. Department of Education Office of Communications and Outreach recently announced more than 250 universities and community colleges nationwide have adopted the “8 Keys to Success,” to help veteran students become successful in school.

The University of Iowa has chosen not to participate in this program but is still taking steps to help veteran students as the school year begins.

According to the press release by the Office of Communications and Outreach, the “8 Keys to Success” help veteran students afford and complete their college degrees, certificates, industry-recognized credentials, and licenses as they prepare for high-growth and high-skilled jobs.

Some of these keys to success include creating a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to provide well-being and success for veterans, and providing comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans.

Allen Roberts, a military and veteran educational specialist at the UI and a veteran himself, said that while the university is not implanting these steps, it tries to make veteran students feel comfortable with the school and the college experience.

“Getting involved with [students] in their majors, getting the well-rounded college experience is what we’re really trying to do here,” Roberts said.

The UI is going through the beginning stage of a partnership with Iowa Works, allowing veterans to hone their skills that are required for résumés, cover letters, and other items that are required for a degree and future preparation.

Wendy Rasmussen, the instructor of  “Life After War: Post-Deployment Issues” at the UI, said she believes the students may be a little older than other undergraduates, but they come in with a structure and unique skills that they gained in the military.

Mike O’Donnell, a UI junior who served in the Navy for six years, was pleased by the facilities and services the university has provided for him. However, he said, the course “Life After War” should be accessible for all veteran students.

“[The course] is specifically designed for veterans who were in-theater operations … and that’s kind of limiting the class itself,” O’Donnell said. “As it is now, it’s a 15-seat class, and there are only five students right now. So maybe some more veteran-oriented classes would be great.”

The University of Michigan is listed as one of the institutions using the “8 Keys to Success” for a relatively small 250 veteran population in campus.

Philip Larson, a transition specialist at Michigan, said officials try to make a broader appeal and have the veterans prepare for their futures.

“This is the next America’s greatest generation … get through college, get a degree, and make a huge difference in America,” Larson said. “It’s just an honor and privilege to serve [veterans], and they are remarkable individuals who are doing great things at our school.”

Roberts said there is an ethos surrounding people who help and that is needed for veterans coming to college from the military.

“But I kind of like to flip the head and actually say, veterans can help us,” he said. “They have leadership experience, because most of them had subordinates when they were in the military, they have the world experience, that life experience traveling around the world. While most of the school looks at it and say, ‘Hey when veterans come to school they need help,’ here at the University of Iowa, we don’t see it that way.”


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