Veterans Program Initiative - 2008

Introduction: The Counseling and Psychological Services at Clayton State University was the first on-campus department to reach out to the specific needs of the university’s veteran population by establishing a support group designed to determine, promote, and service the needs of the veterans (“Veterans Coffee Social”). The veteran student population at Clayton State is currently approximately 400 students and rapidly growing. The Counseling and Psychological Services is in a unique position to offer a support program combining professional counseling help geared to the veterans’ specific needs with assistance in socialization and networking, which are critical to help the veteran students integrate into the campus life.

Purpose: to initiate a pilot program during spring semester 2008 for student veterans that addresses the unique concerns they bring with them while they are enrolled at Clayton State University. The program is designed to facilitate information dissemination in the form of socials and small group discussions among veterans. This initiative involves Counseling and Psychological Services in collaboration with other university departments to provide information and services. Counseling and Psychological Services also serves as a liaison between veterans and various other on- and off-campus bodies by providing referrals to other campus and community resources in order to transition the veterans to self-governance through their own student organization. Our goal is to serve our students and help in the retention efforts through outreach activities that serve this unique and large group of students.

Goals:

  • Host biweekly “Veteran Coffee Socials” with the intention of creating an information forum that fosters a sense of community among veterans and provides them with support and networking opportunities with other veterans.
  • Use information from small discussion groups at the coffee socials to further identify veteran needs on campus and bring findings to higher administration for consideration and implementation of veteran programs
  • Communicate with veterans using campus wide e-mail to inform them of events and activities that support their growth and involvement within the campus community.
  • Liaison with the representatives from the Veterans Administration and other on- and off-campus bodies.
  • Promote Veterans self-governance through a Veteran Student Organization with elected officers
  • Create awareness among and involve other campus departments in understanding and delivering services targeted to meet veterans needs
  • Develop expertise related to treating combat veteran through referrals, supporting psycho-educational groups for combat veterans, and in-service training for the counseling Services staff regarding specific issues facing veterans.
  • Create a contact sheet with the help of campus departments to distribute to student veterans during student orientation.

Veteran program small group discussion findings:

  • A need for clear communication and more frequent interaction between veterans and the Veteran Administration representative on campus.
  • Veterans have a strong interest in creating a veterans’ support organization on campus.
  • Veterans hope to volunteer as ambassadors at orientation to help acclimate new student veterans to campus services, once they are clear on what is available.
  • A number of veterans expressed needs for specialized counseling services.