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The 8 Keys To Veterans Success: What’s Missing

Every school nowadays wants to be a ‘military friendly school’ and participate in multiple Veteran/Military/GI Bill user programs. But, what are these programs comprised of? How did they come to fruition? Who is in charge of them? And most importantly: How will these programs help veterans?

What’s Missing from the 8 Keys to Veterans Success?

In August 2013 the Obama Administration with the Department of Education (ED) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) challenged education institutions to adopt best practices supporting educational success for veterans.

A wide range of stakeholders, (non-profit organizations, foundations, Veteran service organizations, & Veterans who recently completed postsecondary education) participated in discussions which led to the following conclusion.

“We’re announcing what we call ‘8 Keys to Success’ — specific steps that schools can take to truly welcome and encourage our Veterans,” President Obama said.

What Are the 8 Keys to Veteran Success?

  1. Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for Veterans.
  2. Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.
  3. Implement an early alert system to ensure all Veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.
  4. Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all Veterans, together with the creation of a designated space (even if limited in size).
  5. Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for Veterans.
  6. Use a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on Veterans, including demographics, retention and degree completion.
  7. Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to Veterans.
  8. Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for Veterans.

When the program launched, 250 community colleges & universities signed on. Now that number is up to 2,115 higher education institutions.

However, there is one major drawback…

While these are wonderful *keys* to commit to, it is apparent that there is a hole in this program.

The U.S. Department of Education came out and said that they cannot assure that the institutions that have signed up are in fact implementing the 8 Keys, or how well they have been implemented.

This is one of the easier programs for schools to put on their resume when it is also highly possible that the school isn’t necessarily committed at all. (There is no policing by the Dept. of Education for this program.)

What Schools Must Do To Commit To The 8 Keys

All an institution has to do to say they are committed to the 8 Keys and then they get credit for having that program on campus.

Your institution’s president or chancellor should address a letter on official letterhead to the Department of Education affirming the institution’s support and commitment to the 8 Keys.” — Department of Education website.

Are schools proving the 8 Keys are alive on campus?

Finding information about the 8 Keys and how they are put into practice on campuses proves very difficult.

The goal of this article was in fact to highlight positive feedback of the program, however information of that sort is nowhere to be found. No one can say what impact these 8 Keys are making nationwide nor what capacity schools are committing themselves.

Gather your own information

Moral of the story: Don’t look at a college or university’s website that says “8 Keys to Veterans Success” and by default think it is implemented on campus. Be smart and gather your own information by talking to veterans counselors or ask to be introduced to a veteran currently enrolled at that school. Make sure not to enroll somewhere under the assumption that it is committed to this program if in fact, it is not.