Many Returning Military Vets Bound For College

Career College Central summary:

  • There’s a surge coming to America. Tens of thousands of new veterans are expected to return to the workforce or to college in the next several years as the military downsizes after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and as the Pentagon budget is pared back. The Army is drawing down to 490,000 troops from its current 522,000-strong. Defense Secretary Hagel has proposed even steeper cuts in his latest budget, which would reduce the Army alone to its smallest size since before World War II — about 440,000 troops if approved. And that means more vets on college campuses everywhere.
  • The challenges of helping the veterans go to college and stick with it until they graduate is the focus of a major conference getting underway Friday at the University of South Carolina that is drawing representatives from schools as far off as California and Arizona — and as close as Mississippi and the Carolinas.
  • Karen Pettus, director of disability services at the University of South Carolina, said schools across the country are trying to get ready, adding, “We all know there will be a significant increase of military veterans on campuses in coming years.” Among the challenges, schools will have to work with returning vets on establishing their academic credentials and finding areas of study that take advantage of skills learned in the military. Pettus, who has a doctorate in educational psychology and research, said the conference is attracting academic advisers and officials who work in student affairs or disabilities services and want to expand their services for veterans. Her university campus in Columbia is a case in point. Pettus has worked with veterans and student with disabilities there since 1994 and estimates the number of military veterans there has doubled in recent years to about 1,200 — many of them transfer students.

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