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Veteran and Active-Duty Students
Veteran and active-duty students come from all walks of life and each individual brings their own unique contributions, goals, hopes, and challenges. Their life experience provides valuable perspectives in the classroom. Here are suggestions and resources for best supporting LCSC’s veteran and active-duty students.
- Try not to put veterans or active-duty students in situations that demand or overtly prompt disclosure. Comfortability with disclosure varies widely.
- If a student self-identifies as a veteran, avoid initiating questions about their service. Veterans may have uncomfortable memories and challenging experiences that are difficult to talk about. Let them initiate conversation.
- If you wish to encourage veterans, place a statement on your syllabus about the services that LCSC provides to the students, such as the Veteran’s Services, Accessibility Services, and the Counseling Center.
- If you need to initiate a discussion about the student’s service, do so privately during office hours or away from other students. Doing so in front of other students may cause discomfort or set the student apart from their peers in the class.
- Do not have assignments which would require a veteran to share a painful or challenging experience.
- Refrain from explicitly asking veterans to write about their experience or relate it to the subject matter in class. While they may decide to do it on their own, but directly asking them to write about it could put them in an uncomfortable position.
Group work in a military setting often involves life or death situations. Thus, group work in the classroom may be challenging. Consider alternative assignments if veteran or active-duty student requests it or if you observe discomfort.
Planning, organizing and teaching about group work can help students work together productively.
- An overview of how to set up effective groups and group assignments are available at Vanderbilt's CTL and the University of New South Wales.
- A contract such as this example from UC Irvine can help clarify expectations for group work.
- If you encounter challenges with groups that you would like to solve, Carnegie Mellon's CTL offers solutions and guidance.
Some classrooms have door and/or window placement that can exacerbate vigilance. Letting students select their own seats alleviates this anxiety.
Some veteran or active-duty students may express frustration with their student peers because they are not paying attention or following other class expectations. There are a few ways to address this issue.
- Talk with the veteran outside of class. Even though they may only be a few years older than their student peers, they have had very different experiences than many students who may be right out of high school. Veteran student experiences may have included life-or-death situations and for them school is a less-stressful or a differently-stressed atmosphere. It can help to provide some context for the veteran.
- If you feel that it might be helpful, craft a learning agreement with the whole class to address expectations. Also, the Solve a Teaching Problem page from the CTL at Carnegie Mellon offers solutions to a wide range of classroom issues.
- These statements may raise the level of discomfort for the student in your class, or worse, make the student lose their connection with their professor because they feel as though they are misperceived or misunderstood.
- Veteran stereotypes are not always positive. Students may perceive a totalizing statement as a direct insult for what they were and may still strongly identify with.
- Frequently students in the reserves or who are on active duty are called upon with little notice.
- For students who are called up to active duty, college policy requires that faculty provide flexibility regarding absences and late work. In the LCSC policy 5.302, students who are called up have the choice to withdraw or “be given written procedures for completing any coursework in which he/she is doing satisfactory work, if the withdrawal is within three (3) weeks from the end of a term”.
- For veteran students, post-traumatic stress accommodations may include absences/tardiness. The Accessibility Services has protocols in place for those specific cases.
- Flexibility and understanding are key for these students to succeed and stay in school.