The White House is pushing for postsecondary educational opportunities and better employment opportunities for returning veterans. To that end, the Department of Education and the Department of Veterans Affairs are challenging colleges and universities to adopt pro-veteran, pro-education best practices. The “8 Keys to Success” proposed by the Obama Administration was unveiled during the Disabled American Veterans National Convention earlier this year in Orlando, Fla.
The "8 Keys to Success" includes specific steps for educational communities to adopt in order to support veterans. More than 250 universities and community colleges gave adopted the 8 Steps to help vets obtain their higher education degrees and then certificates, licenses and credentials to become highly skilled workforce members.
The Education Department brought together more than 100 specialists from nonprofits, foundations, veterans service organizations and recently returned vets to develop an approach which could be applied to both in-person and online or "distance" learning for vets.
The “8 Keys to Success” incorporate sustained and consistent support from campus heads, a culture of trust across the campus, an early alert system to support vets who may be struggling before they are overwhelmed, a designated space for vets on each campus, outreach with local organizations and communities for services, an overarching demographic collection system to track retention numbers and degrees conferred, an offering of professional development for faculty and staff on vet-focused issues, and a system of practices that work for incoming vets.
President Obama signed an order in 2012 to establish protections for military, vets and families, the Principles of Excellence. As part of the Principles of Excellence, the Veterans Administration is expanding its programs, VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) and Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) programs, designed to put vets in touch with VA-generated resources. VetSuccess on Campus is currently used in 16 U.S. states, in 32 campus sites, and is expanding this year, with thousands of higher education campuses either developing or further expanding Veterans Success Centers in light of the latest influx of investment from the VA. VSOC is currently located at 32 campus sites in 16 states and is expanding to additional campuses in 2013.
More returning service members are attending college on their return to civilian life due to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The VA has paid out an estimated $30 billion since 2009; more than one million vets, service members, families have obtained an education through the Bill.