On behalf of the Southeastern Council on Military Education's Board of Directors, I sincerely thank everyone who was involved in the planning of the 2016 SECOME Symposium, as well as all those who attended the very successful event.
David Chrisinger welcomed the attendees with an unforgettable keynote address where he mentioned that telling stories is just one way to connect with the military-affiliated student. Through telling stories and experiences, it allows faculty and staff to connect with the student on a level that he or she can understand and respect. If you can show empathy through listening, it will provide the student with the trust needed to confide in you, therefore providing the support needed for the student to be successful.
Other noteworthy speakers and field experts provided invaluable information on how we can all come together to provide quality services and programs to help with military transitions, and to conquer issues relating to their transitions. The symposium has left us with new ideas on how SECOME can not only grow, but to continue to meet our members' needs.
This coming fiscal year will also bring change. Change is certain with a new Commander in Chief, and regulations from the DoD -- that is clear. Now is the time for all of us to come together to adapt, and it is so important that we meet the military's needs through quality programs and services. I intend for SECOME to help all of us through this change.
Thank you to all veterans past, present and future!
Happy Birthday Marines!
Virtual Military & Veterans Career Conference
November 30, 2016
Hosted by American InterContinental University and Colorado Technical University. This free virtual Military and Veterans Career Conference is open to everyone that has serviced in the military and their families. The conference will provide information that can help you:
SVA 9th Annual Conference: Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders
The theme for this year’s conference is Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders and attendees should expect to leave feeling inspired by our 4 General Session Speakers, our 5th Annual National Business Plan Competition, the return of the SVA Campus, our 48 breakout sessions and more.
Attendees can build their own unique experience by selecting breakout sessions to attend based off our 6 different tracks. Tracks include: Career Readiness, Chapter Management, Higher Education, Research, Student Success, and SVA.
2017 CCME Professional Development Symposium
Registration for the 2017 Council of College and Military Educators (CCME) Professional Development Symposium occurring at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, GA from 6-9 March 2017 is OPEN. For more information, visit CCME's website.
USAA and PsychArmor Alliance Delivers First-of-its-Kind Online Education Program for Military and Veteran Caregivers and Families
USAA and PsychArmor Institute today unveiled a first-of-its-kind online “School for Military and Veteran Caregivers and Families.” This educational and proactive support program provides free educational content for military and veteran caregivers, who consist of family and friends who voluntarily care for wounded, ill or injured military service members or veterans. Read the full article here.
Best for Vets: Colleges 2017 - New Rankings of 175 Schools
Source: MilitaryTimes, George Altman
At many colleges and universities, you can go to the veterans center for extra help if you fall behind academically. At the University of South Florida, the veterans center goes to you — and you don't have a choice in the matter.
"A lot of veterans won't ask for help, even when you reach out to them," said Larry Braue, director of the USF Office of Veteran Success.
To address this, the school regularly tracks the academic performance of its vet students. Those whose grades start to lag and who don't go to Braue's office for help will find a hold placed on their records that prevents them from registering for new classes until they sit down with the vet staff.
"It's working. They've got to come in, and we've saved a bunch — that's for sure," Braue said. "'Intrusive counseling' is kind of what we've been calling it."
USF is tops among 4-year institutions in the 2017 version of our Best for Vets: Colleges rankings, followed by Rutgers and Syracuse University.
Among online and nontraditional schools, the top spots went to Upper Iowa University, Central Texas College and Bellevue University, Nebraska.
Nebraska’s Central Community College, Clackamas Community College in Oregon and Pierce College in Washington state were the top 2-year schools.
To be considered, colleges had to fill out an exhaustively detailed, roughly 150-question survey. We evaluated institutions based on their survey responses as well as on data collected by three different federal agencies.
As in years past, competition to make the list was intense, and most colleges that filled out the survey didn't make the cut.
More than 90 percent of institutions responding to the Military Times survey have signed on to major federal education agreements related to military and veteran students, such as the White House's Principles of Excellence and the Defense Department's Memorandum of Understanding.
COST, CREDITS AND CULTURE
Assuming full education benefits, service members and veterans can expect to attend most of the institutions that responded to our survey and pay little to nothing out of pocket. More than 90 percent of institutions have costs under the cap for active-duty military tuition assistance — at the graduate level and undergraduate level alike.
For veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, a little less than half of schools had costs within that benefit's limits. But nearly every institution whose costs exceed what the benefit pays participated in the Yellow Ribbon program to make up the difference, and a strong majority completely made up the gap for all students using the benefit.
Institutions allowed vet students to earn credit for their existing knowledge and experience in a variety of ways.
CLEP and DSST, also known as DANTES, were the most widely accepted credit-by-exam programs, each recognized by more than two-thirds of schools.
Vets can also shorten their time to a degree through portfolio reviews that give academic credit for prior military training and experience. More than 86 percent of schools recognize the credit guidelines published by the American Council on Education, while other portfolio review programs are recognized much less frequently.
More than four in five responding institutions have military or veterans clubs, and just under three-quarters of have a veterans center.
n average, schools reported one employee who spent most of his or her time focused on veterans for every 174 student vets.
About three quarters of responding institutions offer training in military and veteran issues. But a significant number of school employees already have personal ties to the military — more than 70 percent reported having at least one military-connected employee in upper-tier positions such as president, dean or trustee board member. Schools reported that veterans comprised roughly 5 percent of their overall employee populations.
TRACKING STUDENTS WITH MILITARY TIES
Just a few years ago, hardly any institutions tracked the academic outcomes of their veteran students. This year, nearly two-thirds of institutions were able to provide veteran-specific course completion, persistence, retention or graduation rates — more than ever before.
Responding colleges charted an average course completion rate of 85 percent and a graduation rate of 51 percent.
Student veterans accounted for just under 8 percent of the enrollment at responding institutions.
Schools are catching and flagging their vet students right away, with better than nine in 10 using questions on their admission applications to identify veterans.
Until recently, many didn't even know how many veteran students they had enrolled. Now, many schools not only know their vets, they have intensive academic tracking and outreach efforts similar to those at USF.
"We use an early alert system to identify students who have difficulty and work on personalized intervention for those students," Barbara Merlo, marketing director for Central Texas College, said in an email.
Similar efforts are underway even at some institutions where tracking and outreach are complicated by the fact that most students attend class online or throughout a nationwide sprawl of campuses.
Upper Iowa University, which offers classes on a main campus, in 25 extension centers throughout the country and online, tracks even how often online students log in to do work and reaches out regularly to those who might be falling behind.
"The constant communication with the students is huge," said Chad Cook, the school's director of military and veteran services.
It's not just school employees helping vet students — fellow student veterans have a big role to play as well.
Upper Iowa University is one of a few dozen institutions nationwide that are part of the new Peer Advisors for Veteran Education, or PAVE, program led by the University of Michigan. This program connects new vet students with those already on campus for guidance on college life and academics.
"It's a peer-assisted model to really help with acclimation and making people feel like they belong, kind of having that support network that you would have in the military," Cook said.
Aimee Carpenter, a former Air Force staff sergeant enrolled at USF, has both relied on other vet students for tutoring help and helped fellow vets herself in her work-study role in the school's vet center.
"I think if I hadn't worked at this office, it would have been a pretty difficult road, honestly, in getting back to civilian life," Carpenter said.
"I feel like I can talk to them about things that I can't talk to people in class about," she said. "It's nice, you know, to say something and to use like military slang and to have people just understand what you're talking about."
Being involved and helping others is a key way for student veterans to help themselves, said Travis Karr, veterans and military services director for Central Community College in Nebraska.
The student veteran group at Karr's institution has been holding fewer meetings and more volunteer activities, helping vets in the community move or do maintenance work on their houses.
"By creating those activities, we create more of a purpose for other veterans who want to join in and support the cause," Karr said, adding that this helps replace the sense of a greater mission and duty that veterans can miss after leaving the military.
"Then they get connected to our resources within the center. They get connected to our other veterans who use those resources."
Navy closes Most Stateside VolEd Offices
Effective October 1 the Navy has closed all stateside Voluntary Education (VOLED) offices leaving only four remaining CONUS locations. Afloat services and OUTCONUS offices, including Hawaii will not be affected by the closing.
The four remaining stateside offices are Naval Station Norfolk, VA; Naval Air Station Jacksonville, FL; Naval Base San Diego, CA; and Naval Base Kitsap, WA. Those VOLED offices are scheduled to close by the end of fiscal year 2017.
All sailors affected by this closing will have to use the Navy's Virtual Education Center (VEC) for services that were previously provided at stateside offices. The Navy has redesigned their Navy College website to make accessing the VEC and finding information much easier.
The Navy says qualified education counselors at the VEC will be able to provide all necessary information and education counseling services. Sailors will have access to VEC counselors via phone, text messaging, and web-chat along with the ability to schedule education counseling appointments online. VEC counselors are available from Monday through Friday, 0600-2100 Eastern Standard Time.
Tracking Military and Veteran Student Success - 'Counting all Student Veterans'
Source: MilitaryTimes, Stephen M. Jordan
Higher education is failing veterans; at least by official measures.
As long as the Department of Education gauges educational success for student veterans by the same factors as for nonveteran students, we will always be behind the eight ball.
Simplified, the federal government requires institutions whose students receive federal financial aid to report its student data. The data collected in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) still doesn’t take into account student veterans’ unique situation.
Fewer than a fifth of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s self-identified veteran students entering between fall of 2015 and summer of 2016 were both first-time and full-time college students, meaning most entering veterans didn’t meet the IPEDS standard; either they were transfer students, part-timers or both. Importantly, their life experiences are often very different from “average” first-time, full-time students.
MSU Denver serves more than 1,000 veterans and military-connected students. They are usually older and more likely to have an Individualized Degree Program. We saw many of them struggling to integrate into the university community.
In 2008, campus agencies began meeting informally to address our veteran population. Efforts increased greatly in 2009 with the Post-9/11 GI Bill’s implementation. The MSU Denver Veterans/Military Task Force, which offered specific recommendations in late 2013.
The Task Force articulated the need to develop a comprehensive Veteran/Military Student Support Program with dedicated staffing, space and funding to facilitate progress and ultimate success.
We acted immediately to train MSU Denver faculty and staff on issues impacting veterans and quickly opened a Veteran and Military Student Center. It has provided a nexus for these students to get peer support and access resources that help them succeed. On weekdays it's a beehive of activity with students socializing and studying.
With these important components in place we were able to affirm our commitment to the “8 Keys to Veterans’ Success” developed by the Departments of Education, Veterans Affairs and Defense.
A difficult issue has been how to respond when National Guard, Reserve or active military students are called for active duty or training. We instituted a policy to cover those contingencies. We also implemented a military transfer credit policy that offers credit for training and experience gained during military service.
Finances are often worrisome for veteran/military students. We’ve worked to ensure veteran/military students have earning opportunities to provide income during breaks when they don’t receive housing allowances from the VA. We also are finalizing details of a plan to ensure veteran/military students can receive financial aid even when GI Bill benefits are delayed.
Aggressively instituting the policies and programs that our veteran/military students need to succeed has earned MSU Denver a spot on Military Times’ Best for Vets: Colleges 2017 list, and we will continue striving for our vets’ success.
All of our veterans — not just the small percentage the Department of Education counts.
Report: Civilian Hiring Managers Love Veterans, but don't Always Understand Them
Source: MilitaryTimes, Leo Shane III
Hiring managers see veterans as valuable recruits for civilian companies but still struggle with how to handle their concerns and professional development, according to a new survey released by the Hiring Our Heroes initiative on Wednesday.
The study, which included interviews with 400 hiring professionals and 1,000 veterans, found that business leaders have helped make their corporate culture more welcoming to transitioning troops in recent years. They’re actively looking to hire veterans, and see them as ideal employees.
Managers interviewed listed military experience as a top three recruiting priority for their firms, with 77 percent calling their skills an important addition to the work force. Eighty percent ranked finding employees with higher education degrees that same level of importance.
The survey, funded by The Merck Foundation, found human resource managers overwhelmingly see veterans as more disciplined (86 percent), collaborative (67 percent) and hard working (61 percent) than their civilian peers.
"They also express few concerns about hiring veterans," the report states.
But more than half of the hiring managers surveyed said they had little to no understanding of military rank and structure, making it difficult to match veterans' experience with appropriate jobs.
"There is still a civilian/military divide," said Eric Eversole, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Hiring Our Heroes program. "There is still a cultural divide ... and veterans still don't know what they don't know about civilian jobs."
Fewer than one in four managers think their workplaces have negative biases against veterans. But nearly half of the veterans surveyed for the report said they have faced negative attitudes and treatment in civilian jobs.
Of the 44 percent of veterans who left a job within a year of being hired, 16 percent said they had difficulty relating to colleagues, and 14 percent said they had trouble relating to their company’s operations and culture.
“To retain these veterans, employers must do more to help their non-veteran employees — especially human resources professionals and hiring managers — understand military service and structure,” the report notes.
The study also found that female veterans tend to struggle more with finding a post-military job than men.
Roughly 56 percent of male veterans said they found employment within four months of separation. Only 45 percent of female veterans said they did.
Program officials said they hope the findings can redirect veterans employment efforts to more focused results, given the success of broader initiatives in recent years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated roughly 7 percent of veterans were unemployed in 2014, but recent months’ estimates have fallen below 5 percent.
Back to Basics with Academic Skills Training
Source: Military.com, DANTES
Basic training, also known as boot camp and various other terms, prepares recruits physically, mentally and emotionally for military service. It gives them the basic tools necessary to perform their duties as a Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Coast Guardsman. Throughout a typical military career, members are also required to use basic skills such as reading, vocabulary and math for performing tasks which are equally essential.
Advances in technology have revolutionized our ability to communicate instantly. However, those same advances have also impacted HOW we communicate, by replacing the fundamentals of good writing and grammar with an abbreviated language, which doesn't necessarily align with the military standard of clear and effective communication. So, let's get back to basics with a few of DANTES on-line training programs.
Online Skills Academic Course (OASC)
Without going back to school, how can military members "refresh" their basic skills and why is this important? The ability to write and communicate an order, critical decision, policy or plan of action is vital to the daily mission, career advancements and success in the military. The Online Skills Academic Course (OASC), offered by DANTES, teaches the concepts and skills that are needed to increase proficiency, not only in reading comprehension and vocabulary, but in math abilities as well. This is a no-cost education tool (Yes, it's FREE for the military) and available 24/7, anywhere there is Internet access. Members begin by completing verbal and math pre-assessment lessons. Once the pre-assessments are completed, a customized learning path will guide the member through the lessons that have been assigned, returning to any areas that haven't been mastered, to ensure training success.
If returning to college or just getting starting is something a service member has been considering, but he/she isn't quite sure about their academic skills, the member can tune up targeted areas with the College Placement Skills Test (CPST) also through DANTES. This educational tool is designed to determine individual readiness with comprehensive online lessons to aid in scoring well on college-placement exams (e.g., Accuplacer, COMPASS) and college-level courses. Subject areas include college-level math, English and writing, with 116 available lessons. CPST is also available at no cost through DANTES, 24/7, anywhere there is Internet access.
Whether interested in military career advancement opportunities, improving college level skills or both, registration for OASC & CPST training is quick and simple, with a generous allowance of 365 days to complete the courses. Visit http://www.nelnetsolutions.com/DantesNet/ to register.
As a member plans for promotion, another career or his/her future after the military, they will likely learn that many jobs require some type of writing. Good writing skills can set a service member apart from others and are definitely worth the time and effort. Once the basics are mastered, writing skills will only get better with practice. Military members should accept and volunteer for writing tasks with a positive attitude. They should share their military stories with service organizations and on their installation's website. Individual experiences, lessons learned and military tips are always valuable to someone else, especially those who may serve in the future.