On this final installment of "Challenges Faced by Student Veterans," we'd like to first thank Alison Lighthall for her article "Ten Things You Should Know About Today's Student Veteran." This is an article full of information based on her research as well as personal experience moving from the military world to the classroom.
As you might know, Aurora has given seven grants to schools to create something called the "Green Zone" Program. This program establishes a faculty / staff training program in which the school's employees to learn more about their student veterans and how they are adapting to life on campus. As her sixth point in her article, Lighthall lists some of the comments she's heard before from student peers, as well as faculty members that single out student veterans in the classroom. These comments can, as she puts it, "do more than upset veterans; they wound the hearts of men and women who are already overburdened with sorrow. For this reason, I believe faculty’s opinions about the military or recent wars are best kept out of the classroom."
With Green Zone training, professors can best know what to say / not to say, and how to help navigate other students' discussions when situations like this arise. There may also be times when veterans' needs differ from other students, and professors are taught to identify these times and build an understanding environment for their student veterans. Different needs include: going to the doctor or visiting the VA; experiencing a slower start from an injury; having to have things repeated before fully understanding (side effect of a TBI or PTSD); wanting to sit alone & away from the group; coming in early and finding their own desk in the classroom where they feel most comfortable... and the list goes on. But for these and many other reasons, the Green Zone Program exists to help faculty make this transition for veterans the best and most seamless it can be.
Veterans are also given a way of identifying which faculty members have gone through this training. They can then choose to take classes from a Green Zone professor verses one who has not gone through training. Faculty and staff are given a badge to put on their door, and the school will usually mark in the class catalog which professors have completed Green Zone training.
Aurora is proud to have helped grow the Green Zone Program across several different states, and hopes to see it continue to expand for the sake of student veterans. They deserve the best conditions upon going back to school, and our hope is that we'll see them not only thrive in the classroom, but in the workforce as well.