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KU has more than 1,300 military-affiliated students on our five campuses. While these students are as diverse as the university itself, they all share a common bond through military service – whether they wore the uniform for our nation and/or were a part of the military family.
Students from military backgrounds often bring leadership experience, maturity, resiliency, mission focus, and a diverse set of life experiences to the classroom. At the same time, transitioning from the military world can pose challenges for some students – whether it’s navigating different bureaucracies, battling stereotypes regarding military service, finding other students to relate to, returning to academia after an extended period, etc. Some students may also have service-connected disabilities.
Our goal at the Student Veteran Center is to serve as a resource for faculty and staff who may be unfamiliar with the military culture. Together, we can enable our military-affiliated students to succeed in their transition to the university, in the classroom, and in their future endeavors.
Frequently Asked Questions
I hear several terms when referring to veterans: student veterans, military students, military-affiliated students – what do those terms mean?
Student veterans – those who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard. They may be, or may have been, on Active Duty, in the Reserves, and/or in the National Guard.
Military students – is a more specific term than veterans, as it refers only to those currently serving in the military.
Military-afiliated students – is the more inclusive term that includes veterans, their spouses, their dependents (their children), and Gold Star Family members (family members who have lost a loved one in military service).
What happens if a military student needs to miss class to fulfill service obligations?
KU provides accommodations for military students who may be mobilized or receive orders that may conflict with their class schedules. University Senate Rules and Regulations ensure students who are activated at any time have the opportunity to make up scheduled examinations, quizzes, or tests.
The University also has a step-by-step guide for students called to deploy who need to withdraw from classes.
Being called to fulfill service obligations during the academic year can be stressful for students. Flexibility and empathy from faculty and staff can really help.
What can I do to make my office/classroom more inclusive for military-affiliated students?
There are a variety of ways to support military-affiliated students on campus. Below are a few tips and resources. When in doubt, or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.
For faculty and staff:
- Be mindful about stereotypes, generalizations and making assumptions regarding student veterans, including regarding combat experience, any challenges they may/may not face, political beliefs, their willingness and interest in discussing military service, etc. Also remember that veterans are diverse as the university itself – male and female, of all types of backgrounds. If students identify themselves as veterans, it helps to get to know them better and ask questions if you aren’t sure.
- It is NEVER appropriate for anyone to ask student veterans may be asked if they have killed someone. Be ready to step in and shut down this query in a classroom (or anywhere) should it come up.
- Understand that military family members may have their own set of unique challenges transitioning to the university from the military world. Empathy and understanding can make a world of difference, as can reminding them that the Student Veteran Center is a resource for them, too.
- Familiarize yourself with the military culture. Here’s one resource: Military Cultural Competence Course (online, CE credits available or can be taken for free).
- Tips for accommodating student veterans with TBI and PTSD