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Nationwide, there is an increasing number of veterans entering higher education. While these students vary from a myriad of backgrounds and situations they are considered nontraditional students. These students tend to be older, and are considered transfer students due to the college credits earned while in the military. According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), “One of the biggest frustrations voiced by veterans is the daunting and unfamiliar bureaucracy of higher education.”
Some Veterans have difficulty adjusting to civilian and academic life. They may also have to recover from physical and psychological injuries sustained during their time of service. According to Villanova University, veterans face five issues while returning to college. These issues are being overwhelmed, adjusting to a new rhythm, isolation, post-traumatic stress, and boredom. According to the AAC&U these issues may be the cause for veterans not using all benefits available to them. They state, “Recent data from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) show that only a small percentage of veterans use all of their federal education benefits.”
There are many assistance programs available to veterans and active-duty service members. Tuition assistance and housing cost assistance are available for full time students. There is also assistance available to their survivors or dependents. The benefits available to veterans are the GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation, Veterans Education Grant, and many more that are listed on the UW-Parkside website.
UW-Parkside also has a Veteran Services office to help students through this transition period. Their mission statement is “Our goal is to serve each of our military and veteran students and family members as you have served our country. Your service to our country means something at Parkside!” The office is located in D-189 Wyllie Hall, and can be contacted by calling (262) 595-2497.
The university also provides the Military and Veteran Success Center. The center is located across from the Cashier’s Office in Wyllie D-192. The purpose of the center is to help military and veteran students to transition into the academic community. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. It is a quiet place to study or to meet other military or veteran students.
UW-Parkside has their own Veteran’s Admissions Counselor, Sergio Correa. He is in the admissions office, can be reached at (262) 595-2300. He assists with the application and benefit process and prior learning credit.
Kenosha County has a Division of Veteran services. The office is located at 8600 Sheridan Road in Kenosha, and is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Their phone number is (262) 605-6690. They assist veterans and their families obtain local, state, and federal benefits. They specialize in assisting in the claim process from start to finish.
There are many organizations on campus and in the community to assist veterans. It is important for each person to be their own advocate, and to make use of these opportunities. One of the biggest obstacles is not knowing what is available or where to go to get assistance.