As of 2019 there were over 544,000 veterans living in Washington State. In many cases, students identified as veterans at Eastern Washington University are those receiving veteran educational benefits, usually referred to as the GI Bill® or Post 9/11 Educational Benefits. But we do not limit the use of the term or our services only to those veterans.
A veteran is someone who has served in one of the five services of the US Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard). The term veteran is applied to an individual who has completed a specific term of service and has been discharged from his or her service obligation; however, the term also applies to those individuals currently serving on Active Duty, as well as those fulfilling their obligation in the Reserves or National Guard.
Many of our student veterans have been deployed one or multiple times to combat zones around the world. However, not all veterans are "combat" veterans; nonetheless, many have served honorably in other areas around the country and the world. Our veterans have lived in and immersed themselves in different cultures throughout the US and the world, from Japan to England and Korea to Germany, as well as Panama, Africa and Iceland, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Veterans are often resilient and resourceful individuals who bring a variety of skills and experiences to the University. The basic military and technical training the Armed Forces provides instills service members with a strong sense of discipline and teamwork, and the multi-faceted mission of our modern military offers vast opportunities for them to apply their skills in real world situations with a workforce as diverse as any other in the civilian world, if not more.
Considering these skills and experiences, student veterans are a substantial resource for enhancing classroom dialogue and bringing firsthand perspectives to course content. Despite these strengths, veterans face additional challenges in college-anything from struggling to overcome stereotypes that are negative and grossly misrepresentative, to adjusting to life as a student after several years away, taking on a full college course load while simultaneously meeting the adult obligations of providing for a family, to coping with the mental stresses and physical wounds of combat service.
The unique circumstances and non-traditional backgrounds student veterans bring to the University sometimes create challenges and potential sources of conflict or discomfort for both the veteran and the University employee. A great resource is a document that The Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs developed to provide insights and guidelines for working with student veterans in the classroom: Veteran Guidelines and Best Practices in the Classroom
If you're hearing a lot more about veterans on campus, it's because our office is doing its job. More to the point, it's because recent changes to Veterans Benefits, coupled with the incremental draw-down in Iraq and Afghanistan, have led to increasing numbers of veterans in higher education.
In 2009, Congress passed an expansion of education benefits for military veterans who have served or will serve after September 11, 2001. Commonly known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill®, this program is creating a surge of student veteran enrollment which is expected to last over the next decade. Eastern is among the many institutions working to address important questions about veterans' needs and the ways valuable support services can be structured accordingly.
In most cases these VA Educational benefits cover tuition at EWU for up to 36 months, provide a book stipend of $1000 an academic year, and provide a housing allowance. The VA Education Benefits are like an academic scholarship a veteran has earned by serving in the Armed Services.
Many student veterans at Eastern are still fulfilling service obligations either in the Active Duty, Reserves, or National Guard. The EWU Academic Policy 303-30, Chapter 7 covers policy on students called to active duty or deployed. (https://inside.ewu.edu/policies/knowledge-base/category/academics/)
Faculty and Staff who work with student veterans are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the relevant University Policy and not to hesitate to contact the VRC staff to provide clarity or details. The VRC staff continually talks with our student veterans who are still serving to ensure they keep their professors informed of any pending or potential deployments which may affect their academic schedule.
Information and research related to veterans' issues are available through the government and nonprofit organization websites listed below.
US Department of Veterans Affairs: http://www.va.gov/
Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America: http://iava.org/
Student Veterans of America: http://www.studentveterans.org/
Veterans of Foreign Wars: http://www.vfw.org/
Military One Source: http://www.militaryonesource.com/
If you are a veteran yourself or would simply like to be more informed or involved in veteran focused events on campus, the Veterans Resource Center would like to hear from you. There are several ways you can get involved.
Join our mailing list. The VRC maintains an email list of Faculty and Staff members who have expressed an interest in supporting veteran focused events or learning more about veteran related news and information to pass on to their students and colleagues. Contact us to be added to the list.
Join our EWU VRC Facebook page where we post upcoming events and news.
Coordinate with the VRC staff to have your department receive our "GOT YOUR 6" training, which can be tailored to fit your needs and schedule. "GOT YOUR 6" training is an opportunity to learn more about our student veterans, the military culture, and what attitudes and behaviors helps us continue to be a military and veteran friendly campus.
If you have any questions or concerns about student veterans, please contact the Veterans Resource Center at 509.359.2461/6592. Email Dave Millet (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lena Tanguay (email@example.com) or come by Showalter 122.