8 Keys to Success Program

Category: Education
Created on Tuesday, September 03 2013
Written by Curtis L. Coy

Department of Veterans Affairs8 Keys To Veteran Success on Campus: A Collaboration Among the U.S. Departments of Education, Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Labor

Over the next several years, the number of Service Members transitioning from military life to civilian life (as Veterans) is expected to increase significantly. A growing number of these Veterans will be enrolling at America’s colleges and universities as they seek to become career-ready and improve their future prospects for employment. For these Veterans, access to higher education is important, but it is not enough; we must help our Veterans obtain a degree, certificate, or license. These credentials are valued by employers and serve as a key milestone to future career success.

It is time for all of us to consider – across our agencies, campuses and military installations – how to assist Veterans in completing their chosen educational programs. The Obama Administration has made Veteran educational success a priority. As such, Executive Order 13607, Establishing Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members, calls for agencies to work together to ensure that educational institutions effectively serve those who have served our nation. The VOW (Veterans Opportunity to Work) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, signed into law in November 2011, called for the redesign and implementation of a new military transition assistance program, with voluntary tracks in higher education and skills training. These interagency efforts, as they unfold, are designed to enable Veterans to more easily garner information about college access, identify programs that meet their individual needs, and select among quality institutions and available financial aid options under the GI Bill and Federal Student Aid.

Over the past year, the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Education, Defense and Labor have been working collaboratively with the White House to further build on and identify concrete strategies to aid our Veterans and Service Members in reaching their educational and training goals. A session was held where over 100 participants discussed various approaches that could be scaled and replicated to foster success on campus. This gathering brought together a wide range of stakeholders: government agencies, including the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Education, Defense and Labor; non-profit organizations, including foundations and Veterans service organizations; and, importantly, Veterans who had recently completed college degrees in a range of disciplines. During the session and subsequent efforts, we have gleaned many best practices and strategies that are captured in the corresponding pages of this document.

Many of the grantees from the Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) are proceeding to develop or expand their campus Veterans’ Centers of Excellence and their Veterans Upward Bound Program. Importantly, further conveying the diversity of resources available to support Veterans, in 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) initiated a pilot program, VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC). The program, which is currently located at 32 campus sites in 16 states and is expanding to additional campuses during 2013, aims to help ease the transition of Service Members to civilian life and provide outreach to Veterans as they adjust to the unique challenges as they enter the academic setting. This initiative also aims to ensure Veterans are aware of the Department of Labor funded American Job Centers, so that they take advantage of this free employment assistance.

This program, which continues to evolve based upon valuable feedback from stakeholders, is an effort to continue shaping a dialogue that has momentum at the federal level, and to help institutions identify keys to facilitating Veterans’ success on their own campuses. In addition to concrete examples, this document contains a list of, and  links to, resources that campuses may find useful. We hope that this document sets the stage for ongoing conversations, research and analyses on improving the Veteran experience and success of Veterans on America’s campuses. Given their lives and service to our nation, our Veterans deserve our wholehearted assistance in facilitating their educational success in postsecondary education and beyond.

A list of schools who have already committed to the 8 Keys can be found here

Keys to Facilitating Veterans' Success on Campus

Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for Veterans.

Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.

Implement an early alert system to ensure all Veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.

Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all Veterans, together with the creation of designated space (even if limited in size).

Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for Veterans.

Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on student Veterans, including demographics, retention, and degree completion.

Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to Veterans.

Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for Veterans.