Helping Veterans Succeed in the Classroom

Dr Biden

Dr. Biden delivers opening remarks at Google’s veterans’ higher education event, Washington, D.C., November 13, 2013

Cross-posted from the Joining Forces Blog.

Yesterday, Dr. Jill Biden joined Google for their announcement of a Global Impact Award to the Institute for Veterans and Military FamiliesStudent Veterans of America, the Posse Foundation and Veterans of Foreign Wars to help ensure colleges and universities have the information they need to help veterans succeed in obtaining higher education.

“I have seen it in my own classroom — veterans bring the same determination and focus to their studies that they brought to serving our country,” said Dr. Biden, a lifelong educator and military mom.

Dr. Biden said the efforts were “exactly what the First Lady and I hoped to see when we started our Joining Forces initiative two years ago … individuals, businesses, and nonprofits working with the public sector to step up and do what they do best to help veterans and military families.”

Over the next few years, more than a million service men and women will end their military careers and transition back to civilian life. For many, education will be at the front line of that transition. Ensuring that our returning veterans and military families have access to the programs and resources that will help them successfully navigate their educational paths is critical.

As Dr. Biden noted, many of the student veterans she has met face unique challenges – they differ from their classmates in terms of age and experience, they often find a more relaxed schedule on campus to be very different from the rigid military schedule they are used to, and are juggling multiple priorities outside of school.

As part of Joining Forces, Dr. Biden plans to visit programs at colleges and universities around the country who are supporting veterans and military families to learn more about how successful programs can be replicated at other institutions.


  1. As a retire Air Force Airman of 23 years, I am very appreciative of the education assistance program. When I entered the service, I invested into the GI Bill program (most of you retiree remember the Montgomery GI Bill) and took full advantage of it in pursuing my Ed.D degree when I got out. I was able to find a job immediately after I retired. With the rapid advancement in technology today; it is vital that we place emphasis on educating our warfighters to be “smarter” in the face of ever growing change. One way the military is achieving this is the use self-improvement (education) as a factor in promotion boards.

  2. Ensuring higher education to our returning veterans is critical, not only in terms of equal educational opportunity, but also in terms of reintegration to civilian life, economic stability, and by extension, mental health for our veterans.

    A recent article in Time outlined the value of volunteerism for returning veterans’ adjustment to domestic life. In countless instances, veterans reported deriving a sense of purpose and personal satisfaction from performing volunteer work. Likewise, rates of depression are substantially lower among veterans who participate in service groups than veterans in the general population.

    The structure and sense of purpose afforded by higher education will not only provide economic stability and independence for our vets, but can provide yet another area for them to devote their talents and discipline to a greater purpose. Not only that, but educational institutions–with their respective health centers and student affairs divisions–can provide an avenue through which veterans struggling with mental illness can obtain the resources and support they need.

  3. I am a Vietnam Veteran and am 67 years old. My wife and I both are disabled. I am currently taking physical thearpy for a busted hip and leg discrepancy so that I can walk normal again. My questions is, is there any such grants or financial assistance that will help me get rehabilitated in a new career. I just enrolled in an on line carpentry course but am living on a small social security check which runs short before the next payday and cannot really afford the payments which I am having to pay the on line school for the course.

  4. I am an older student who was raised in the generation that had high respect and regards to those individuals who serve our country. I am going to graduate with a Masters in Adult Education in March 2014. I know that my studies do not end there. I find that I wish to serve my country and would find it a great honor to give back to the veterans with an exceptional tailored education for their needs. I would like to find out how I can gain the specialized knowledge and skills to assist our veterans in their college needs. I have a passion for life long learning and wish to convey the power that an education gives an individual to make positive changes in their lives. I whole heartedly believe that this would be a good fit not only for me but for those I would serve. I would be excited to learn more about taking an active role in supporting our troops educational endeavors. I continue to hear stories through history where are returning troops were not given all that our country has to offer and I wish to begin the route to correcting that situation.

    • Dawn,
      I’ve been involved in a search of the latest scholarly literature tied to veteran’s education because it applies to my Doctoral studies.
      I came across your comment, and wanted to offer my support for your endeavor to learn more about how you might help veterans.
      I am an Air Force veteran, and am currently serving as the Military Programs Director at a school in Pittsburgh, PA.
      I would welcome the opportunity to share my insight on this subject with you.

  5. The issue of educating veterans is one that is often overlooked. After a decade of war, thousands of service men and woman will become civilians. A good amount of those veterans may have joined the military right after high school and now are deciding to pursue a secondary degree. Making sure help is available for this next step will be essential. I think Dr. Biden’s initiative is excellent. These soldiers risk their lives for our country, the least we can do is help them succeed in the next phase of their lives. The issue of veterans typically being older than other students pursuing the same degree is definitely something that needs to be addressed when designing these education programs. People learn best when they are comfortable in their learning environment. A potential solution could be to inform the veterans of the social aspect of the different programs, rather than purely academic.

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