Helping Women Veterans Succeed in College
Posted by sherrysaunders on August 3, 2010
Women veterans are a growing and important part of the U.S. Labor Force. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics in 2009, about 1.9 million of the nation’s veterans served during Gulf War era II (September 2001 forward). About 18 percent of these veterans were women, compared with 3 percent of veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam era combined.
The VA reports that over 150,000 women will transition from the military over next few years. As of the fall of 2009, women made up more than 14 % of active duty military, more than 17% of active reserves and 15% of the National Guard. Women veterans on average are younger than their male counterparts; this indicates that women veterans will probably be spending more time seeking education and training as they develop their civilian careers.
As these women join student bodies of colleges and universities across the country, will they meet with an atmosphere of acceptance and assistance or one that does not recognize some of the unique problems and challenges they face as they transition back into civilian life? A new issue brief from the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Office of Women in Higher Education (OWHE) addresses some these questions and offers some practical options for institutions of higher learning to help these women veteran students.
Suggestions in the brief, The Female Veteran-Friendly Campus include:
- Seek out female therapists in the community to work pro bono with returning women veterans.
- Open a campus child care center, with slots reserved for the children of veterans.
- Identify a member of the career services staff who knows how to translate military experience for civilian résumés.
- Make a deliberate effort to encourage women veterans to identify themselves and meet other women veterans.
ACE prepared the issue brief based discussions at meetings in Washington, DC, attended by women veterans, representatives of higher education institutions and other experts including BPW CEO Deborah Frett. A survey of 125 ACE/OWHE State Network Coordinators was also conducted.
Women Veterans in Transition, a research project on women veterans conducted by BPW Foundation supports the findings in this new ACE brief. The BPW Foundation research found that the transition from the military into the civilian workforce is a multi-dimensional process. A number of factors need to be considered when crafting programs and services that fully support women veterans as they move into civilian life be it the workplace or an educational setting.
It is so important that all institutions are ready to help our veterans as they make that critical transition from military to civilian life. This brief is an important addition to information needed to support our veterans.