Veterans Only

At a 2009 national conference of student affairs professionals, Michelle D. Cyrus, assistant director of the Center for Student Empowerment at Central Washington University, asked why the agenda didn't include any sessions on student veterans. Nobody could give her a good answer.

Cyrus looks back on that moment as a measure of how much programming for student veterans has expanded over the past few years. In particular, classes designed exclusively for veterans have reached many campuses since they first emerged a few years ago.

But while some colleges are still jumping on board with the idea, others have had varying levels of success — and a few of the programs haven't survived.

“It’s really sporadic in the institutions that are doing it. And we know in light of fiscal cuts, institutions are being a lot more conservative with the different classes that they’re creating, that they’re making, and when they’re doing cutbacks they’re looking at classes that they don’t see as productive. And sometimes that crosses into [classes serving nontraditional students],” Cyrus said.

Many programs have also had trouble filling seats in the classes, making them an even more likely target for cuts. “I’m a proponent of, 'If you build it, they will eventually come.' But when you’re talking people power and dollars, it gets to be quite challenging.”

At Cleveland State University, for instance, where the model for many institutions’ veterans-only classes developed, the courses have been done away with (that structure, called Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran, is still in place at a handful of others, including the University of Arizona and Youngstown State University). The classes were also discontinued at Ohio State University. Though officials decline to say why, staff at other campuses point to issues with logistics and demand.

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