SVA: Supporting Our Student Veterans to Forge A New Path for Our Nation

Posted December 23, 2014

Feature by Student Veterans of American

Veterans leave the service with a unique set of skills and certain intangible qualities that make them stand out relative to their peers. As more and more veterans leave the service, they are pursuing higher education as an avenue to further develop those skills and make themselves more competitive for the rigors of today’s workforce.

Student Veterans of America’s (SVA) mission is to equip veterans with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to achieve their academic goals and move on to high-growth, high-demand careers.

We believe in holding institutions accountable for creating a more welcoming environment for veterans on campus. That is why in 2012, in conjunction with our partners at the Pat Tillman Foundation, and Operation College Promise, we signed on to the “Got Your 6 Education Pillar.”

Our first step in this commitment was to ask colleges and universities to demonstrate their commitment to the student veterans walking their halls today and all those that will come in the future, by signing the Got Your 6 Education Pillar Pledge.

Our efforts to ensure that schools become more supportive of student veterans exceeded expectations because of the support of the White House and Department of Veterans Affairs. Together, the White House and VA recognized the need to hold schools accountable and created the Principles of Excellence. To date, over 6,000 institutions have signed onto the Principles of Excellence, and made a public commitment to better serve the veterans on their campus.

Through our efforts, we realized more was needed than simply asking for a public commitment from institutions of higher learning. We recognized that a statement alone was not enough, that even the most dedicated schools needed the resources and the know-how to successfully implement the Principles of Excellence. To ensure this groundswell of good will translate to action, SVA and the Pat Tillman Foundation expanded our initial commitment to include educating institutions through the creation and distribution of a toolkit to inform campus leaders on best practices, and how to implement them. This toolkit was informed both by the Million Records Project, SVA’s ground-breaking research into academic outcomes for student veterans, and by direct feedback from our network of over 1,100 chapters across the country and Tillman Military Scholars.

Our Million Records Project discovered that veterans are succeeding in the classroom, meeting the challenges facing them in their transition, and they are graduating at rates significantly higher than other non-traditional students. The next phase of the Million Records Project, will focus on Post-9/11 GI Bill recipients, specifically examining the different factors influencing success in the classroom.
In November, we distributed these toolkits to 2,041 camps presidents and chancellors, the senior most leaders responsible for the direction of their respective institutions. Our hope is that armed with these kits, leaders will be able to guide their schools in the direction that provides the best support to their veterans.

Through the power of peer support, and with the help of campus leadership, this generation of student veterans will be able to take the skills that made them so successful in the military, achieve success in the classroom, and forge a new path forward for this great nation.

As we approach the New Year, SVA remains committed to providing the support and resources needed to tap into veterans’ unique strengths ensuring that student veterans achieve their dreams and, in the process, brighten America’s future.