Community colleges and universities are being asked to sign a pledge to help veterans. The Valuing Veterans pledge declares a school’s support for enhancing student veteran outreach and recognition, providing transition services and establishing support policies and procedures.
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“Veterans have tremendous strengths, everything from leadership experience and mission focus to technical skills, but they also have very unique needs,” said Erica Borggren, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
Dennis Trejo, a student at DePaul University and a Navy reservist, says DePaul has a good veterans’ support group, but he says like most colleges and universities, there are some things that must be addressed. He says he had trouble enrolling in classes after he returned from being called to active duty. “In my particular situation there were classes that were closed so I was kind of behind the ball as far as being able to enroll in classes just because my date as far as coming back was uncertain, nothing was ever really concrete, there are logistical issues that are always on hand, so I think that if we address those issues and really consider that there is a possibility that there are student veterans at the universities that get deployed that we can go ahead and better serve that particular population of student veterans,” Trejo said.
The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning recommends a single point of contact on campus for veterans, providing veteran-specific orientation and making it easier for veterans to find the information they need. There are 850,000 documented veterans in Illinois and 76,000 of those are Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.