Veterans 101 shows faculty the strength and diversity that vets bring to the classroom

by Patrick Kaminowski

Feb. 6, 2018

Director of the Cleveland State University Veterans Resource Center Bob Shields summed up the transitionary period of a student veteran with a simple photo on a Powerpoint. The photo showed a deployed service member holding an M-16 rifle. He asks faculty members and teaching assistants, “How do we get from here, to this?”

The workshop discussion, Veterans 101, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 brought together instructors and teaching assistant’s alike, many with little familiarity of the military. Shields presented ways for faculty and teaching assistants to better understand the process of military veterans adjusting to college life.

Cleveland State has approximately 565 student veterans with the average age being 31. They hold backgrounds in the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard.  Shields noted that many current student vets are serving in the Reserve or National Guard areas of their service branches.

With training weekends, and sometimes longer durations of being called for duty, the mix of service and university life can overlap and cause conflict. Shields reminded faculty members that reservists and Guard members are authorized by the university, extra time to regroup and prepare for course work and exams after being away from the classroom.

Shields explained the pertinent role of responsibility among student veterans. He said the process of climbing the ladder of rank in military careers emphasized eagerness of wanting to reach further, an experience that can lead veterans to want to become leaders in class as well, which he emphasized, instructors should be aware of.

He noted that the desire to lead is not just in the classroom, but everywhere. “I would like to see our vets take more of a leadership role outside of our immediate community,” Shields said.

He explained that students at Cleveland State seem to have a very clear and concise mind frame when it comes to succeeding at academics. They don’t usually care for micro-managing or close supervision from professors. Shields said the attitude is mostly “show me what I have to do, then get out of my way.”

Of the challenges that student vets face, Shields discussed mental health issues like stress and anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Traumatic Brain Injury, all of which can potentially hinder academic performance. He can usually gauge a student from sitting down for a few minutes and chatting. If there is an underlying issue, Shields can find them the help they need.¬† He said he urges veterans to “take care of your head before your head takes care of you.”

Veterans Affairs will be holding bi-monthly group sessions on campus at the Veterans Resource Center to help students be comfortable voicing personal concerns through discussion. Veterans Affairs professionals can then make arrangements for individuals who may need further counseling.

Shields encouraged anyone with questions or concerns to visit the Veterans Resource Center located at 2254 Euclid Ave. within Trinity Commons.



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