Interacting with Student Veterans in the Classroom

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Meet Adam Jennings, an alumni of LSU, and the Coordinator for Veteran & Military Student Services in FYE. If you would like to know more about supporting student veterans at LSU, contact Veteran and Military Student Services at ajenn15@lsu.edu.

Shortly after graduating from LSU in 2009, while most of my friends were applying for graduate school or searching for a job, I was on my way to Basic Combat Training for the United States Army. Less than a year later I was in a black hawk helicopter flying over Zabul province, Afghanistan. Zabul was as different as you could get from the shady oaks of the LSU campus. Perpetual layers of dust, a population with a 97% illiteracy rate, and IED’s lurking beneath the road bed made higher education about the farthest thing from my mind. I was lucky to have already finished my undergraduate degree but many of the soldiers I served with had not had the same opportunity.

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After over a decade of war, there are hundreds of thousands of combat veterans in America. Many of these veterans will be using the benefits they earned while in the military to return to school.  LSU is proud to be the home of hundreds of veterans, and your student may be sharing a classroom with a veteran as you read this. There is no doubt that LSU and its student body support veterans and wish them success. However, supporting student veterans on campus should be approached with a base of knowledge and empathy. In many student veteran surveys across the nation one of the issues listed is other students asking them questions that make them uncomfortable.  Here are several common questions your student might avoid asking if they do not know the veteran very well.

Did you kill anyone?

It would seem that common sense would deem this an inappropriate question but this is asked surprisingly often.

Do military members support the war? Do military members like the President?

Like any group the military is made up of individuals and each has his or her own opinions about politics, morality, and religion.

 Do not tell a veteran that you understand what they are going through and then share a personal/unrelated story.

There really is no way to completely understand going to war unless you have been

there. You don’t have to understand what they’ve been through to show them you care for and support them.

What was it like over there?

Much like when your student was asked “Are you excited about going to college?” this question can become very redundant or obtrusive for student veterans if they do not want to talk about their experiences.

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For more information, please contact Adam or visit our website!

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