The purpose of this study was to identify the needs of veterans enrolled in community colleges and to evaluate if the colleges are equipped to provide the programs and services essential to meeting those needs.
“A qualitative case study design using interviews, observations, field notes, document reviews, a focus group, and a pre-interview demographic questionnaire provides a holistic account of the community college experience for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Five major themes relating to the veterans’ perspectives of their needs at the case institution emerged from the data: (a) credit streamlining; (b) streamlining of programs and services; (c) faculty, advisor, and counselor training; (d) difficulties encountered by veterans, and (e) factors that constitute a veteran friendly campus. These five themes are linked and presented in an integrated way in order to holistically address the study’s three research questions. What do veterans perceive their needs to be at the community college? What programs and services are currently in place at the community college to address the needs of veterans? What recommendations can be made for improving the veterans’ community college experience” (p. v). (Abstractor: Author).

Major Findings & Recommendations

“Veterans perceived community college needs at the case institution include: • A central space where students could find information on educational benefits, programs, and services that are veteran specific. • Credit streamlining, which is easing the process of transferring military coursework, prior coursework completed at other institutions, and military experiential learning toward college credit. • Faculty and counselors to be trained in recognizing the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related disorders that negatively impact the learning abilities of veterans…. The Veterans Certifying Official (VCO) is the most knowledgeable employee at the institution in the area of educational needs of veterans. The VCO has implemented a number of services and programs targeted for veterans. • The state has mandated an unfunded Higher Education Veterans Service Act (2009) that stipulates adjustments in how Illinois colleges serve their veteran student population. As a result of the mandate, the case institution has a detailed proposal in place to further evaluate and address the needs of veterans. Recommendations for improving veteran community college programs and services include: • Credit Streamlining, as it would ease the transfer of military credit and experiential learning would show veterans that the case institution respects and values the education veterans received while serving in the military. • A more holistic approach to the education of veterans that integrates beginning educational processes such as a veterans specific orientation and a first semester veterans learning community; continuing educational processes such as faculty support networks, and accurate data recording and reporting; and concluding educational processes such as completion tracking and job placement assistance. • A veteran’s center was ranked as being the most helpful service that veterans could receive at the case institution. • Veteran specific training for faculty and counselors in the area of PTSD and related disorders as well as sensitivity training (p. 133-137)”. (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)