An increasing number of veterans have traded in their green and brown camouflage for blue and gray: The veteran population on campus has ballooned from a few dozen in 2009 to almost 500 students at the start of the 2012-2013 academic year. However, their transition onto the Hilltop involves much more than moving into a dorm and signing up for courses. Georgetown needs to boost funding to accommodate this growing trend and the challenges it presents.
Last week, Army Major Paul DeLeon (GRD ’13) hosted the pilot seminar of the Georgetown University Veteran Ally Program. GUVAP aims to educate Georgetown staff and faculty about the benefits and challenges student veterans bring to the classroom. This seminar, led by student veterans and guest speakers and concluding in a panel discussion, takes a proactive approach to the student veteran dynamic in classroom discussions.
GUVAP has received funding from the Aurora Foundation, a foundation that helps student veterans pursue a college education and enter the workforce, for a limited number of seminars next fall, but it needs additional funding and support to continue to expand to a greater number of students and faculty — and to become an established reservoir of information and education for faculty and students on campus. Georgetown should recognize the program’s merit in making the classroom environment more accommodating to student veterans.
In response to the growing number of student veterans on campus, the university has implemented the position of veteran office coordinator as well as veteran support meetings, which are led twice a semester by key faculty and staff familiar with the challenges veterans face in adjusting to campus. In order to foster a positive learning environment for veterans at Georgetown, the university should strongly consider contributing funds to the GUVAP program.
Discussion-based learning is the hallmark of a college education. It is the university’s responsibility that all students, including those who have served in our nation’s military, benefit fully from an open classroom setting.