Why Student Veterans?

In early 2016, The Pathway Home, Inc. (TPH) Board of Directors commissioned a needs assessment of today’s returning Veterans. This assessment illuminated the gap in supportive services for post-9/11 Veterans attempting to balance academic or vocational engagement with civilian reintegration while also managing the lasting effects of deployment.

Following are data points that informed the TPH Board’s decision to focus on the unique needs of student Veterans.

  • There are currently 30, 817[1] Veterans on the GI Bill, pursuing an Associate’s Degree at a California community college.
  • Only 29% of these Veterans complete in two years or less[2] and on average take longer than their civilian counterparts to earn postsecondary degrees[3], jeopardizing their ability to use their full GI benefit and graduate, and placing them at risk for drop out.
  • Delayed time for degree completion is due, in part, to specific issues related to transition from military to civilian living. These specific challenges include:
  1. difficulty securing jobs, housing, and other basic needs previously provided by the military;
  2. loss of social networks;
  3. challenges obtaining healthcare;
  4. lack of meaningful engagement in life;
  5. experiencing anger and aggressive behavior;
  6. symptoms of depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress;
  7. interpersonal difficulties;
  8. negative changes in family, parenting, and relationship dynamics;
  9. difficulty engaging in community activities and adapting to civilian society; and
  10. not feeling understood by civilians.
  • High rates of mental health issues linked to problems with poor college performance and failure to graduate.
  • Avoidant coping has been found to be more common among student Veterans than their civilian peers. This leads to a reluctance to reach out for help due to the belief that they will be perceived as weak or a burden.

Research supports focusing efforts to help Veterans at an earlier stage in their civilian reintegration to prevent the development of more severe impairment to mental health. Given the data and feedback from returning Veterans, TPH is now committed to intervening earlier in the reintegration process to help prevent common transition challenges from developing into chronic, disabling conditions.

[1] California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Management Information Systems Data Mart. (n.d.). Retrieved May 09, 2016, from http://datamart.ccco.edu/Services/Special_Pop_Count.aspx

[2] Million Records Project: A review of veteran achievement in higher education. Student Veterans of America (2014). Retrieved May 09. 2016, from https://studentveterans.org/images/Reingold_Materials/mrp/download-materials/mrp_Full_report.pdf

[3] Cate, C.A. Million Records Project: Research from Student Veterans of America. 2014, Student Veterans of America: Washington, DC.