Post 9/11 Veterans: Boosting the economy and ruling the classroom?
A couple of years ago, a chilling statistic made the rounds on the Internet: 88% of veterans who attended a higher education institution through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, dropped out within the first year. Media mainstays like Huffington Post and MSNBC championed these dire statistic in their coverage.
The problem was the statistic had no source. “Journalists” cited a March 2012 study by the Colorado Workforce Development Council, which then cited a Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions) Committee study. The Senate HELP Committee studies had no record of any statistic or report close to that number. Credit to the Student Veterans of America for being one of the many groups to raise the red flags.
Veterans in College: A Good Return on Investment (ROI)
Long story short, Veterans are not failing out of college at an abysmal rate. In fact, a recent study by the Student Veterans of America found that 51% of the nearly 800,000 Veterans who attended a higher education institution from 2002 to 2013 graduated. Highlights of the study include:
- The majority of Veterans graduated with degrees in public safety, business, computer, and IT services.
- Degrees include vocational certificates, bachelor and graduates degrees, and job training courses.
- Air Force Veterans had the highest graduation rates at 67%.
- 21% of Veteran graduates were women.
- 80% chose to attend public institutions.
These promising numbers show the value of Veterans to the American workforce and economy. They also show that the Post-9/11 GI Bill is paying off, as Veterans are entering the workforce and beginning careers.
Although Veterans are often considered “nontraditional students,” their service in the Armed Forces provides them with advantages like:
- discipline and commitment
- real-world training and experience
- insight and background into teamwork and teambuilding
- ability to make smart decisions and think clearly in high-pressure situations
There’s no reason to think that our modern-day men and women in uniform can’t have the same boost to employers across the United States as other Veterans did after World War II. The success of Veterans in the classroom will give more employers the opportunity to hire intelligent and experienced graduates.
How Do We Keep Veterans in the Classroom?
Many of our Veterans have little trouble excelling at the college level. Their completion numbers are just slightly below the 59% non-veteran graduation rate. This is amazing considering 85% of Student Veterans are over 24-years-old, and close to half (47%) have families!
Despite their success, Student Veterans face unique challenges on their journey through higher education. Fortunately, many of the United States higher education institutions are taking steps to help with this transition. A study by the American Council on Education found that 62% of the nearly 700 colleges and universities who responded said they use programs and services specifically designed for Student Veterans.
Easing the transition from military service to student life and setting Student Veterans on a successful path can be achieved. The Association of American Colleges and Universities lists concepts to improve Veteran integration:
- creating specific points of contact for Veterans at campus offices
- work with community stakeholders and groups to coordinate Veteran services
- designate or maintain a specific campus orientation for Veterans
- popularize and promote Student Veteran groups, and improve outreach opportunities for Veterans on campus
- ensure that faculty and staff are familiar with the needs of Veterans
- improve services for Veterans with disabilities
It is no surprise that the Veteran community are a resilient group with a formidable work ethic. Student Veterans are the next leaders and innovators of our country. With improved support and open dialogue about the positive results of Student Veterans, future pilots, soldiers, and seamen can rest assured that their service in the Armed Forces will be respected and valued at the college level.
To donate to the Veterans Action Network, click here.