The Veteran Education Training Ally Program: VET Allies

If you missed the 2017 Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI) or would like to revisit a TLISI topic, follow along with us as as we feature various sessions on the Prospect blog over the course of the 2017-18 academic year. We’ll be sharing posts on the following themes: Teaching in the Jesuit Tradition, Incorporating Difficult and Timely Topics, Innovative Teaching Practices, Technology Enhanced Learning, Evidence-based Teaching and Learning, Inclusive Pedagogies, and Cross-Institutional & Cross-Departmental Collaborations. Many of the sessions were recorded and are viewable on Digital Georgetown (accessible by anyone with a Georgetown NetID). You can also find links to all of our recorded sessions on the TLISI Resources page. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on posts and more!

Georgetown is a military-connected campus—about a thousand of our students are active duty, veterans, reservists, or spouses/dependents of military students—but what can we do to make sure that Georgetown is also a military-friendly campus?

LeNaya Hezel, director of the Georgetown Veterans Office, came to TLISI 2017 to talk about exactly that. In her panel “The Veteran Education Training Ally Program: VET Allies,” Hezel outlined some of the strengths that military-connected students bring to Georgetown, such as leadership and teamwork skills, resilience, adaptability, resourcefulness, organization, and empathy. They also may face challenges here, however, as they transition to a very different culture than the military, as they navigate the ways in which their background and age might not match the students around them, and as they handle possible stress around national/international news developments and the possibility of military reactivation.

So what can faculty and staff do to make this campus work for our military-connected students? Hezel offered some recommendations, including:

  • Get educated about veteran experiences and opportunities here at Georgetown. The Veterans Office on campus is a great place to start! Meanwhile, express interest in the experiences, past work, and goals of the military-connected students in your courses, while of course allowing them to decide what and when to disclose.
  • Make your syllabus and course policies military-friendly. For example, did you know Georgetown has a military leave of absence policy that you can incorporate explicitly into your syllabus?
  • Bear in mind that certain holidays/occasions may elicit strong emotions, including not just Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Independence Day, but also Alive Day.
  • Find opportunities inside and outside the classroom for military-connected students and civilian students to build bridges.
  • If students are facing transitional challenges, meet with them privately, and connect them to campus resources, like the Veterans Office, the Academic Resource Center, and CAPS.

As a Jesuit institution, Georgetown is committed to the value of cura personalis, which means engaging the uniqueness and complexity of all of our students. When it comes to military-connected students, this means going beyond “thank you for your service” to make sure that this is a place where they can thrive.