For military veterans returning from active duty, the transition back into civilian life can be a difficult one.
Apart from the mental adjustment needed to move from being an active military member to living in civilian society, veterans may find themselves facing the effects of both physical injuries and psychological trauma. The big question for many veterans is “what now”?
They may already have families to support and be struggling with a drop in income since leaving the military. For some veterans, getting further education is a good way to learn new things and new ways of using their strengths and skills, while supporting themselves and their families.
Online courses provide flexibility
Online education offer veterans a flexible way to study new subjects and gain qualifications, including study up to degree level.
Online courses are useful when it comes to fitting a new course of study around their family life and other commitments, and takes away the stress of having to physically travel in order to study.
Many colleges offer online programs designed with the military in mind.
Institutions such as Harvard University and Syracuse University run online courses with military vets in mind, designed to help them learn the new skills they need to enter a new and rewarding career as they transition back into civilian life.
Colleges offer support to military veterans
Many colleges are starting to recognize that some veterans have specific support needs that other students may not. They may have psychological stresses that make study difficult and need flexibility in being able to study at a pace that suits them. The transition away from military life can leave veterans missing the camaraderie and routine of being in the military, shaking their sense of identity and making it harder for them to fit back into life away from active service.
A study by the American Council on Education found that 62% of colleges and universities offer services that help in making college courses accessible to military service members and veterans. As well as flexible and online study is, services include counseling, assistance in moving out of military life, and support systems where veterans can talk to other veteran students.
Benefits make studying more feasible
The introduction of the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2009 provided further help for veterans. Although the bill faced some difficulties in implementation and the process for getting benefits was rocky for some, overall the bill offered bigger advantages to veterans who want to study.
These include a better living allowance and partnerships with colleges and universities that cover a wider range of tuition fees that before, and allow direct payment of them to the institution, cutting down on out of pocket expenses.
Reports by RAND and Student Veterans of America showed that benefits play a big role in veterans’ decisions to enter education after the military, with more than half obtaining a post-graduate certification – a similar number as would be expected among more traditional students.
The combination of benefits with an increasing awareness of the particular needs of veteran students means that there are more flexible options for veterans, more support, and more chances for veterans to learn new skills and take a proactive role in transitioning back to civilian life.
About the Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on subjects as diverse as health, marketing, business, and SEO.