Cultural and Experiential Diversity of America’s Veterans
written by Veterans Education Project, a partner of CollegeRecon
Diversity drives ingenuity and progress, and our Nation’s Veteran population represents no shortage of diversity and innovation. If American workplaces and academies wish to pursue such virtues, they could look towards our nation’s Veterans.
For example, according to 2018 data released by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), almost 2 million Veterans are identified as female. This figure represents almost 10 percent of the 20 million total VA-reported Veterans. However, biological sex is just one of five identifiers listed on the VA’s national data.
The Diversity of the Military Community
Veterans’ dependents, i.e., spouses and children, represent another identifier that espouses the wonderfully intricate diversity of our Nation’s diverse Veteran population. According to 2019 data released by Student Veterans of America (SVA), roughly 52% of veterans surveyed reported having children. So, most student veterans must simultaneously balance their parental and student responsibilities.
According an Student Veterans of America Survey, roughly 52% of Student Veterans Reported Having Children
This stands in stark contrast to the population of non-military students who fit a more homogeneous demographic of unmarried, childless, young adults with little prior work experience. In contrast, the diverse backgrounds and experiences of military and Veteran students are reflected in the multiplicity of their needs and interests.
University of Texas at Austin Adapts to Accommodate Diverse Needs
Leadership in the workplace and academia should appeal to those needs and interests if they seek to benefit from the cultural and experiential diversity of America’s Veterans. The University of Texas provides an example of how a school can accommodate the needs of Veterans in dealing with unforeseen difficulties, such as the Covid pandemic.
“COVID-19 has caused increased stress among U.S. adults, with many reporting concerns assisting their children with distance learning due to school closures,” according to a 2021 study published by Susan Sonnenschein, Elyse R Grossman, and Julie A Grossman in Education Sciences. Furthermore, childcare services disproportionally affect women and minorities across the country, as reported by Ashley Gorbulja-Maldonado, a member of The Veterans Education Project. Of veterans surveyed by SVA;
- 9.74% identified as African American/Black
- 10.97% identified as Hispanic/Latino
- 3.43% identified as Asian
To recognize and support the diverse duties of student Servicemembers and Veterans, the University of Texas at Austin recently recognized the importance of veterans’ dependents’ participation in higher education by changing its student veterans’ office’s name to Veteran and Military Affiliated Services. This is one example of a school recognizing the diversity of student Veterans and adapting to accommodate their diverse needs, but it points in the direction that student Veterans and Servicemembers would like to see when they apply to schools.
Veteran Demographics Shifting
Furthermore, when it comes to diversity and looking to the future, it would benefit our educational institutions to understand how Veteran demographics will have changed by the middle of the 21st century. According to the VA, we will see an even more diverse Veteran population by 2045:
- 15% Black Veterans (12% in 2019)
- 12% Hispanic Veterans (8% in 2019)
- 2.7% Asian Veterans (1.6% in 2019)
- 1.6% American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans (0.7% in 2019)
Global War on Terror Veterans to Make Up Largest Share of Veterans by 2045
By the same year, those who first served in the Global War on Terror will make up the largest share of the Veteran population. As a result, schools should pay increasing attention to beneficiaries of the Post-9/11 GI Bill over older recipients if they wish to stay ahead of the curb and attract top talent from the Veteran community.
Schools should see that the military community is an excellent source of diversity both in terms of background and experience. It is one that is worth investing the time in understanding and marketing towards as it becomes more wholly representative of America going forward.
by Veterans Education Project, for more info, please visit their website.