Veteran’s Transition Course at the University of Wyoming
In late January 2011, two faculty members at the University of Wyoming (UW) with over 50 years of combined military service were contacted about establishing a transition course for returning veterans by the UW Veterans Transition Task Force. As veterans themselves, they were honored to be asked to serve fellow veterans in this capacity.
To construct this course, they elicited the assistance of experts in veterans’ affairs and challenges including:
• Army Reserve Officer Training Commander (Army ROTC) and staff
• Air Force Reserve Officer Training Commander (USAF ROTC) and staff
• Veterans Affairs, Local Recovery Coordinator
• Veterans Affairs representative, Associate Dean of Students
• Various information sources including “Combat2College” (combat2college.org)
The goals of this course are to provide returning veterans:
• A smooth transition to college life (time management skills, financial management, wellness skills)
• Basic tools for academic success (basic writing skills, library skills, oral presentation skills, and advising)
• Information on resources available to returning veterans (VA benefits, academic services, career services)
• A sense of community, camaraderie and belonging (interaction with fellow veterans, community service opportunities)
• Information on veteran related challenges (post-traumatic stress disorder awareness, AWARE (Alcohol Wellness Alternatives, Research, & Education), Gateway suicide prevention training, and stress reduction techniques)
• Originally, the course counted for University (General) Studies credit for the Intellectual Community (I) and the Information Literacy (L) component and Communication.
The course began as a “small footprint” course of one semester hour. That is, a course framework was developed such that any interested colleague could teach this course. Attempts were made to use already existing resources wherever possible. In mid-2015, to accommodate the major revision of the University Studies Program (i.e., general studies) at the University of Wyoming, the course was expanded to three semester hours, with additional material for written, oral, and digital communication. This added communication material was presented in such a way as to provide an effective bridge between the communication style common in a military environment, and the communication style expected in a university environment. This made the course more approachable for veterans than a more traditional course covering those topics. This revised version of the course was first taught in the Spring semester of 2016. The revised course counts as a Communication 2 (COM2) for USP; a typical COM2 course would be a second non-majors English course.
This course has been taught annually since 2011. In this paper we share course development, content, evolution over time, successes, and area for further improvement. Also, we discuss in detail additional veteran services provided by the campus Veteran Service Center that dovetail into the course. We expect to provide student feedback from previous students as a form of assessment.
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