A school touts that it is committed to The 8 Keys to Veterans Success. You’re thrilled. All Veterans who attend there are on the road to success! Right?


Everyone 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 YOU?

(Courtesy: DVIDS)

(Courtesy: DVIDS)

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


(Courtesy: DVIDS)

(Courtesy: DVIDS)

What are these ‘keys’? 

  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.]


A major drawback

While these are wonderful *keys* to commit to I have found that there is a major drawback to this program.

The U.S. Department of Education came out and said that they cannot assure that the institutions that have signed up have infact implemented the 8 Keys, or how well they have implemented them.

I’m sorry to say that this may be one of the easier programs for colleges to put on their resume when it’s possible that they aren’t committed at all. (There is no policing by the Dept. of Education for this program.)

(Courtesy: DVIDS)

(Courtesy: DVIDS)

What schools must do to commit to 8 Keys

You may be scratching your head thinking ‘How is that so?’ All an institution has to do to say they are committed to the 8 Keys and be on the Dept. of Education’s list is the following:


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.”


I decided to do some recon of my own. However, finding information about the 8 Keys and how they are put into practice on campuses proves to be difficult.

The point of this blog post was actually to highlight the positive feedback of the program. While I am not discrediting the schools that do commit themselves fully, I can’t help but be disillusioned.

When no one is checking in to make sure you are working your absolute hardest for no real personal benefit, will you always be putting in 110 percent? (Do you catch the parallel I am drawing here?) No one can say what impact these 8 Keys are making nationwide nor what capacity schools are committing themselves.

(Courtesy: DVIDS)

(Courtesy: DVIDS)

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 information!

Checking Veteran programs

One way to check a if school has adopted the 8 Keys is by utilizing this resource. Type into the search bar the not-for-profit institution and the school’s profile includes the 8 Keys for Veterans Success status. Very quickly you will see whether the institution has signed on for it or not.

Then, call the Veteran Counselor or Veteran Office to find out hard facts on what the institution is doing on campus. Make sure not to enroll somewhere under the assumption that it is committed to this program if in fact, it is not.


(Featured Image Courtesy of DVIDS)