WASHINGTON — Veteran education is a perennially urgent issue for members of the United States military.
In order to raise awareness about barriers to veteran education and initiatives being undertaken to improve it, National Louis University and Student Veterans of America joined forces to host March 26’s “Improving Veteran Education Symposium” at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington.
There, the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative spoke with two expert panelists (who also happen to be veterans themselves) to get the inside scoop on how the media can do a better job of covering veteran education.
Advice from Megan Everett, Northwestern University alum, Program Officer of the Veterans Program at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and United States Navy veteran:
Put higher education institutions who are dropping the ball when it comes to serving veterans on blast in order to pressure them to step their games up.
Indicators to watch:
Does the school have staff members explicitly dedicated to serving veterans?
“We have certifying officials that work to certify the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and do some financial aid work, but there’s no person who has ‘veteran’ in their title,” Everett said of Northwestern University, where she is currently working to improve the state of veterans’ resources on campus.
Do veterans have dedicated physical spaces on campus?
Does the school have a functional veteran service group?
Other data points and factors to keep an eye on
Veteran student recruiting
Veteran student retention
Utilization of veteran student skill sets
Advice from David Goldich, Senior Consultant at Gallup and United States Marine Corps veteran:
Don’t assume that very veteran’s experience is identical or make instant extrapolations about the entire military community based on a single person’s story.
“Realize that it’s not a monolith; it’s a mosaic, when you’re talking about veterans or the military,” he explained during the post-panel Q&A. He advised reporters to recognize how differences in areas such as military branch, employment status, gender, levels of physical ability and more impact individual experience.
“Connect the dots” and move from merely looking at veteran graduation rates to an analysis of “what works for who [sic] and why.”
“No one’s talking to each other,” he explained. “Everyone’s measuring their little own slice of the block—pie. They’ve got blinders.”
Questions to ask:
Does education lead to an improved quality of life
Does education lead to better employment?
What identifiable indicators led people to pursue higher education after their military service?
Find “thematic connections” between different stages of a veteran student’s life to better understand the stories behind different veteran outcomes.