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Running head: STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 1

Student Veteran Support at South Seattle College

Lauren E. Van Fossen

Seattle University
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Table of Contents

Abstract…………………………………………………………………………………………...3

Problem Statement and Purpose………………………………………………………………..4

Literature Review………………………………………………………………………………..7

Methodology………………………………………………………………………………….....13

Findings………………………………………………………………………………………….18

Implications……………………………………………………………………………………..24

Proposed Action Plan…………………………………………………………………………..27

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………………29

Reflection………………………………………………………………………………………..30

References……………………………………………………………………………………….34

Appendix A: Demographic Questionnaires………..………………………………………….38

Appendix B: Interview Protocols……………………………………………………………...41

Appendix C: Proposed Action Steps and Timeline…………………………………………..44
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Abstract

Student Veterans have a variety of challenges transitioning to civilian life and higher education,

however; higher education institutions can often marginalize the small student Veteran

populations and support services for the student Veteran experience and transition. The purpose

of this qualitative study was to explore and analyze the current experiences of student Veterans

at South Seattle College and services for student Veterans. The data were collected through 2

interviews with administrators who work with student Veterans at South Seattle College, and

through a focus group interview of 5 student Veterans at South Seattle College. Data analysis

revealed 4 themes across administrators and student Veterans that influenced the experience and

support services for student Veterans: sense of community and family, the classroom

environment, institutional support and structure, and sustainability. The findings have

implications for administrators and student affairs practitioners at community colleges working

with student Veterans to focus on sustainability through data, tracking, and outreach, to provide

professional development for faculty to improve the classroom experience, and to foster cross-

campus connections to further support for student Veterans. An action plan and timeline are

proposed to address the findings and implications for South Seattle College.

Keywords: community colleges, higher education, students, student services, Veterans
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Problem Statement and Purpose

As wars change, so do the experiences and intersecting identities of Veterans, which

influences their transition to higher education and their student experience. With the evolution

of educational benefits for student Veterans, in particular the new Post-9/11 G.I. Bill enacted in

2008, comes an increase predicted enrollment in community colleges (Barr, 2015; Cohen,

Brawer, & Kisker, 2013). The student Veteran population is a small, marginalized group with

multiple layers of complex identities that are often misunderstood (Wheeler, 2012). Higher

education is an avenue for service members to transition back to civilian life as a student

Veteran. Student affairs professionals have a responsibility to understand the experiences of

these students and to provide support and services for navigating, transitioning, and experiencing

college.

Recent research has begun to assess the impact of current policies, like the Post-9/11 G.I.

Bill, which offers more expansive benefits and housing allowances. In conjunction with the bill,

the current and predicted national trend for an increase in enrollment as members of the service

return from their service and transition back into civilian life (Cohen, Brawer, & Kisker, 2013).

The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which has been shown to increase persistence and a drive to transfer, has

also been argued to not adequately address equity and provide appropriate services for students

with multiple intersecting identities (Barr, 2015; Ottley, 2014). The bill has influenced

enrollment in community colleges because of the diversity-inclusive mission of community

colleges and the multiple opportunities of community college, such as vocational/technical and

collegiate/transfer programs (Barr, 2015; Casey & Larsen, 2015; Cohen, Brawer, & Kisker,

2013; Persky & Oliver, 2010). The literature has found that providing educational benefits at the

national level is not enough to promote access and equity, whereas adaptable and dynamic
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community colleges can provide the services to support students as they transition with multiple

intersecting identities (Cohen, Brawer, & Kisker, 2013).

The qualitative research done to capture the transition of student Veterans has identified

many challenges and barriers for student Veterans. Findings revealed microaggressions,

oppression, and stigmatization for students’ Veteran status (Francis & Kraus, 2012; Hammond,

2016), which stemmed from misunderstandings and a lack of knowledge about the military

culture (Wheeler, 2012). Furthermore, other overlapping factors, such as disability, family

status, financial stress, cultural and identity adjustments, influenced the success of student

Veterans in higher education (Fagan & Dunklin, 2014; Francis & Kraus, 2012; Rumann &

Hamrick, 2010; Wheeler, 2012). Few studies have focused on the areas of support student

Veterans have with their Veteran identity, including peer relationships, leadership and teamwork,

self-discipline, and valuable experiences (Burnett & Segoria, 2009; Griffin & Gilbert, 2015;

Hammond, 2016; Olsen, Badger, & McCuddy, 2014; Wheeler, 2012).

Much of the literature provides recommendations for college campuses to implement in

order to improve support, services, transitions, and the experiences for student Veterans. A

prevalent recommendation for campuses has been a Veteran’s Resource Center to provide a

central place for students to access services or accurately referred, as this model mirrors the

military culture of having a single point of contact to address their needs (Evans, Pellegrino, &

Hoggan, 2015; Fagan & Dunklin, 2014; Francis & Kraus, 2012; Griffin & Gilbert, 2015;

Wheeler, 2012). Mentorship from staff and faculty was also found to be a common positive

support for the student Veteran transition, which requires professional development and

education on military culture in order to build the trust and communication needed to initiate

relationships (Evans, Pellegrino, & Hoggan, 2015; Francis & Kraus, 2012; Heineman, 2016;
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Persky & Oliver, 2010; Rumann & Hamrick, 2010; Wheeler, 2012). Additionally, campus and

community partnerships, such as advising, Veterans Affairs certification, career services and

local military installations and organizations, foster a Veteran-friendly college environment for

students (Burnett & Segoria, 2009; Persky & Oliver, 2010; Rumann & Hamrick, 2010; Wheeler,

2012).

Although there has been increasingly more literature on the student Veteran experience

with Schlossberg’s transition theory as a theoretical framework (Schlossberg, 1984), there is

limited research reporting the student Veteran narrative at community colleges, in particular

through the lens of access, equity, and social justice. Furthermore, there has been limited

research that includes the voices of higher education administrators and faculty who identify as

Veterans or work with student Veterans. This study expands upon the limited research

expressing the voices of student Veterans in community colleges, while also integrating the

voices of administrators and faculty members.

This exploration of the student Veteran experience at a community college will illuminate

the areas of challenge and support for Veteran students. The study will reveal any gaps in

multicultural awareness and knowledge (Pope, Reynolds, & Mueller, 2004) about the student

Veteran experience for practicing student affairs professionals. The findings will provide

administrators with perspectives and recommendations for systematic and programmatic changes

at community colleges, and for individual support for student Veterans through their transition

and to their academic and career goals.

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the transition and experience for

student Veterans at South Seattle College. Experiences of student Veterans include, but are not

limited to the interactions and engagement with services, staff, faculty, and students on campus.
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Through individual and group interviews and qualitative analysis, this study explores the

narratives and experiences of five students who identify as student Veterans and two

administrators who work within the student Veteran community at South Seattle College.

Literature Review

Key themes emerged from the literature of student Veterans in the context of community

colleges. Significant historical national legislation sets the foundation that informs and

influences current state and community college programs and policies. Much of the literature

explores the student Veteran experience of transitioning from military life to student Veteran life

with multiple intersecting identities. Several promising practices and services are recommended

across the literature to support student Veterans in community colleges. Finally, gaps in the

literature and areas for further research are identified.

Historical Context and the Role of State Policy and Community Colleges

Since the passage of the Higher Education Act of 1965, the federal government has had

interest in providing opportunity and access to marginalized and underrepresented groups

(Burkhardt et al., 2012). Historically, Veteran students have been receiving educational benefits

for a long time, most notably from the G.I. Bill of 1944, which was influential in integrating

World War II Veterans back into civilian life through higher education. Federal Veterans

education benefits expanded in the Montgomery G.I. Bill, and further in the most recent Post-

9/11 G.I. Bill, which includes housing allowances and differential benefits based on tuition

(Barr, 2015; Caspers & Ackerman, 2013). Already, research has been done on the short-term

impact of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and there has been an increase in enrollment in higher education

along with predicted persistence and a drive to transfer (Barr, 2015). This large expansion of

education benefits for Veteran students increases access and equity for higher education, and has
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a major influence on the enrollment and services for community colleges, rather than four-year

institutions (Persky & Oliver, 2010). The historical context of national legislation sets up the

challenges in higher education for Veteran students.

The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill provides differential benefits depending on the cost of housing

and tuition, providing equitable benefits for Veteran students and overall satisfaction with the

benefits programs (Barr, 2015; Bell et al., 2013). Despite these positive aspects, Ottley (2014)

claims that the bill does not adequately address equity for Black American Veterans based on

their intersecting identities, and mental and medical health factors, therefore the national

education benefits alone do not address diversity and equity for all students. Furthermore, a

federally funded program, Veteran Upward Bound (VUB), intends to increase higher education

completion for Veteran students, however, federal agencies are not able to provide data that

supports that this program increases postsecondary completion rates for Veterans (Steele, 2015).

Although the literature reveals that national legislation alone is not supporting

underrepresented student populations in higher education, another theme that emerged from the

literature was that state and institution interpretations of national policies, in particular

community colleges, begin to address access and equity for students. The increase in enrollment

in higher education for Veteran students due to Veterans Affairs educational benefits is causing

an influx of Veteran students to community colleges due to the diversity-inclusive mission of

community colleges (Casey & Larsen, 2015; Cohen, Brawer, & Kisker, 2013; Persky & Oliver,

2010). For example, although the federally funded VUB program is poorly assessed for

postsecondary completion rates, many community colleges are implementing VUB to create a

culture of care and mentorship for students, especially first-generation and low-income Veteran

students (Wallace, Abel, & Ropers-Huilman, 2000). Community colleges are built to adapt and
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change to sociocultural events quickly (Cohen, Brawer, & Kisker, 2013); therefore community

colleges are the higher education structures that can implement changes and services to address

equity, diversity, and access.

Transitioning with Multiple Intersecting Identities

Another theme across the literature was the significant transition Veteran students

experience as they transition from military life to civilian and student life, and how a student

Veterans’ intersecting identities influence the transition. Many studies discuss the Veteran

student experience through qualitative accounts in the theoretical framework of Schlossberg’s

transition theory (Griffin, & Gilbert, 2015; Rumann & Hamrick, 2010; Schlossberg, 1984;

Schlossberg, Waters, & Goodman, 1995). Much of the literature focuses on the difficulties of

transitioning and identity, including financial stress, frustrating and oppressive social

interactions, cultural and identity adjustments, and mental health and disability (Fagan &

Dunklin, 2014; Francis & Kraus, 2012; Rumann & Hamrick, 2010; Wheeler, 2012). However,

Olsen, Badger, and McCuddy (2014) asked participants to discuss their perceived strengths in

relation to their identity as a student Veteran, which included self-discipline, leadership and

teamwork, new and valuable perspectives and experiences. Furthermore, one of the most

supportive factors influencing Veterans students’ transition was peer relationships among the

Veteran community (Burnett, & Segoria, 2009; Griffin, & Gilbert, 2015; Hammond, 2016;

Wheeler, 2012). In a qualitative study by Griffin and Gilbert (2015), Veteran students expressed

that they had little in common with other undergraduate students and felt more comfortable with

other Veterans as they could relate to their life experiences.

Several qualitative studies found that the Veteran identity was the most salient identity

for student Veterans (Francis & Kraus, 2012; Hammond, 2016). In developing a student
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Veterans center, student affairs professionals found a tension in the college addressing Veterans,

a majority white, male, heterosexual student population, as a marginalized group (Francis &

Kraus, 2012). However, as mentioned previously, there have been many barriers to college

around access, oppression, and power (Francis & Kraus, 2012; Ottley, 2014). For example,

Veteran students may experience microaggressions and stigmatization from civilian students

asking if they had killed anyone or other inappropriate questions (Hammond, 2016). Likewise, a

study by Wheeler (2012) found that this misinterpretation and misunderstanding of Veteran

culture makes it difficult to transition, and also acts as a form of oppression (Francis & Kraus,

2012). Pellegrino and Hoggan (2015) studied female military Veteran students at community

colleges and found that identifying as a woman and a mother made finding affordable childcare a

significant factor in transitioning. Furthermore, several studies discuss two primary injuries of

recent wars, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), which affect

student Veteran success in transitioning academically and socially (Wheeler, 2012). These

unique risk factors, along with the supportive factors, have led to several established current

practices to support student Veterans in community colleges.

Promising Practices to Support Student Veterans in Community Colleges

Much of the literature included recommendations and practices in higher education to

support Veteran students through their transitions with multiple intersecting identities and to

provide services to navigate their educational benefits. Some of the many promising practices

found across the literature included a Veterans resources center for students, knowledgeable and

mentoring faculty, staff, and peers, and supportive campus services to create a Veteran-friendly

campus. These recommendations across the literature are also affirmed by the U.S. Department

of Education's 8 Keys to Veterans' Success, which are suggestions for higher education
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institutions to assist the transition and completion for student Veterans (U.S. Department of

Education, 2013). Three unique community colleges, Salt Lake Community College in Utah,

Central Community College in Nebraska, and Shoreline Community College in Washington,

were all recognized as in the top 11 2-year colleges in the Military Times Best for Vets: Colleges

(2014) for services and graduation for student Veterans.

A Veterans resource center, or a “one-stop shop”, has been an example of a promising

practice and recommendation in much of the literature (Evans, Pellegrino, & Hoggan, 2015;

Fagan & Dunklin, 2014; Francis, & Kraus, 2012; Griffin, & Gilbert, 2015; Wheeler, 2012). A

resource center mirrors the military culture in which servicemen and women report to a single

person for their needs (Fagan & Dunklin, 2014). Salt Lake Community College, Central

Community College and Shoreline Community College all employ the use of a Veteran

Resource Center. Central Community College employs a trifold model of service, including a

dedicated physical place for student Veterans, a library of resources consisting of workshops and

connections to community partners, and a command center of programs and services for the

Veteran community (Central Community College, 2016). Although specialized personnel in

various academic departments is also a model practiced at institutions, a Veterans resource center

has been shown to create a community of support, a key factor shown to influence a positive

transition for student Veterans (Francis & Kraus, 2012).

Another key recommendation found across the literature was the professional

development of faculty and staff (Evans, Pellegrino, & Hoggan, 2015; Heineman, 2016; Persky,

& Oliver, 2010; Wheeler, 2012). Understanding the needs of Veteran students for faculty was

particularly important as many studies have found that faculty relationships and mentorship

create a more positive college experience, particularly for Veteran students (Rumann & Hamrick,
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2010; Wheeler, 2012). Central Community College provides training for college personnel to

identify and understand student Veteran challenges (Central Community College, 2016). Francis

and Kraus (2012) learned through their implementation of a Veterans resource center that trust

and communication with the university administration were essential in working with Veteran

students.

Lastly, a push to create a supportive, and receptive campus culture for student Veterans

was recommended across several studies (Rumann & Hamrick, 2010; Wheeler, 2012). For

example, Salt Lake Community College has a staff member from their Disability Resource

Center hold regular office hours in the Veteran Student Center, however, changed the title to

Veteran accessibility advisor to reduce the stigma of equated disability with weakness (Ahern,

Foster, & Head, 2015). Recommendations to create a Veteran-friendly college environment

include integration of Veteran and academic services, including advising, tutoring, and Veterans

Affairs certification (Burnett, & Segoria, 2009; Rumann & Hamrick, 2010; Wheeler, 2012).

Central Community College and Shoreline Community College offer Veteran specific academic

advising, tutoring and Veterans-only courses to support students in the academic experience

(Central Community College, 2016; Shoreline Community College, 2016). Another way that

these unique community colleges exhibit a Veteran-friendly environment is through a robust,

accessible website. Shoreline Community College provided access to all of the forms specific to

Veterans, and Central Community College has an accessible, easy-to-find and use checklist for

Veterans getting started at Central Community College (Central Community College, 2016;

Shoreline Community College, 2016).

Furthermore, many studies suggested on and off campus partnerships with the campus

Career Center and local military installations and organizations (Burnett, & Segoria, 2009;
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Evans, Pellegrino, & Hoggan, 2015; Heineman, 2016; Persky & Oliver, 2010). Shoreline

Community College offers a professional mentorship program specifically for Veterans to

connect students with a corporate professional a career field of interest in order to gain

professional development skills through one-on-one mentorship (Shoreline Community College,

2016).

Although there have been many promising practices identified to support Veteran

students, there is limited research on the effectiveness of these programs and services. It is

suggested that research should be done to examine the academic, career, and retention outcomes

with the influences of support services, especially as higher education is being pushed to provide

more evidence for outcomes-based measures as a measure of success. Furthermore, with a

predicted increase in enrollment for Veterans since the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, further research

should be done to examine the needs of current Veteran from recent wars.

Methodology

Through this qualitative case study analysis, the transition experiences and student

services for student Veterans at a community college were analyzed to centralize the experiences

of student Veterans in order to build recommendations for student affairs practice at community

colleges. The research questions studied included: What is the experience of student Veterans at

South Seattle College? How do student services address access, diversity, and social justice for

student Veterans?

Site Description

South Seattle College is one of five community and technical colleges in the Seattle

College District. According to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education

(n.d.), South Seattle College is categorized as a nonresidential, public, baccalaureate/associate’s
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college: associates dominant. The mission of the college includes being a “constantly evolving

educational community dedicated to providing quality learning experiences which prepare

students to meet their goals for life and work” and committing to serving the diverse needs of

students (South Seattle College, 2016b).

The resources and services South Seattle College provided for Veteran students at the

time of this study included a Veterans Student Center and a separate Veterans Affairs Service

Desk, where the Veterans Transition Specialist and Veterans Affairs Certifying Official were

located (South Seattle College, 2016d). The President’s Advisory Committee on Veterans also

reported directly to the President to inform the President on matters concerning promoting,

supporting, and serving Veteran students and employees (South Seattle College, 2016d). For

Veteran students and dependent students of Veterans, the Student Veteran Association stated that

it was dedicated to building a community and support on campus (South Seattle College, 2016d).

South Seattle College was chosen for this study because administrators at South Seattle

College were interested in qualitative data to improve and further student support services for

marginalized student populations. Furthermore, community colleges, such as South Seattle

College, are often transition pathways for Veterans to utilize their VA educational benefits. The

lower tuition, programs in professional and technical programs, the diversity of non-traditional

students, and the establishment of student Veteran support services makes community colleges

an attractive choice for Veterans entering and re-entering higher education and also an ideal site

for this study.

Overall there were seven participants in the study, two administrators and five students.

Six out of the seven participants identified as a Veteran or currently in the military. Among the

student Veterans, three students were in a professional/technical program and two students were
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in transfer/collegiate programs. Six participants identified as male, one identified as female.

One participant identified as Latino, one identified as mixed race, one identified as Black, and

four participants identified as White. Four student Veterans identified as the first member of

their family to attend college and four student Veterans identified with having an invisible or

visible disability. All student Veterans worked at least 10 hours per week. Among the

administrators, years of experience in their current position at South Seattle College ranged from

one to eight years.

Data Collection

The methodology used for this study was qualitative in order to capture the narrative

experiences of students Veterans at South Seattle College. Qualitative methodology was

appropriate according to the researcher, because administrator and student narratives of the

student Veteran experience and transition at community and technical colleges were limited.

Qualitative studies provide the narrative for understanding and centralizing the experiences of

student Veterans that go beyond quantitative findings.

Two administrators at South Seattle College who worked with and served student

Veterans were recruited for this study through recommendations from the gatekeeper of the

study, an administrator of South Seattle College. One of the administrators interviewed who has

built trust with the student Veterans at the Veteran Student Center assisted in recruiting six

student Veterans to participate in the focus group. Trust is important for student Veterans to feel

heard, understood, and comfortable (Francis & Kraus, 2012), therefore, utilizing the assistance of

a trusted administrator was intended to be socially just and to respect the identity and

experiences of a student Veteran. Furthermore, all participants were asked permission to

audiotape the interviews and ensured confidentially through the use of pseudonyms.
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Two 30-minute interviews were conducted with two mid-level administrators with high

contact with student Veterans. In each interview, five open-ended questions were created, with

one to three probes for each question. These individual interviews provides the researcher the

benefit to direct the questioning to surround the research questions, and allows the interviewees

to respond openly and provide historical and socially constructed information (Creswell, 2014).

Additionally, one 30-minute focus group of five student Veterans was conducted. Five open-

ended questions were created, with two to four probes per question. A focus group interview

format provides student Veterans with the space to discuss with peers and also for the

opportunity to allow the discussion of perspectives and experiences in an open, yet directed,

format.

The focus of the interview protocol questions for both the Veteran student focus group

and administrator individual interviews were adapted from the research questions of the study.

All interviews began with a warm-up question to begin the discussion, then through questions

that allowed space to discuss experiences, and address areas of challenge and support. Lastly,

the participants were given the chance to add any additional information that was not discussed

in the interview. The open-ended interview questions allowed participants to address the

support, challenges, and recommendations to the Veteran student experience and transition from

their personal perspectives as students and administrators.

Data Analysis

The qualitative data from the transcriptions of the individual interviews and the focus

group were hand-coded based on Tesch’s Eight Steps in the Coding Process (Creswell, 2014).

Initially, all transcriptions of interviews were read for overall meaning and tone. Throughout the

transcriptions, topics, ideas, and categories were recognized. From these topics, codes were
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assigned with single terms and the data was organized and analyzed according these codes. This

coding process generates a description of the setting, including the administrators, student

Veterans, student services, and experiences of support and challenges for student Veterans.

Furthermore, using this coding process generate themes across the narrative experiences of

student Veterans and administrators who work with student Veterans. These themes construct

the perspective of the student Veteran experience at the community college, which provide the

required lens from student Veterans and administrators who work with Veteran students to view

and present recommendations to promote access, diversity, and social justice, which

demonstrates the commitment of the college to meet the needs of diverse student populations

(South Seattle College, 2016b).

To validate the findings of the study, three different sources of information were

analyzed. Focus group interviews, individual interviews, and existing literature were used to

triangulate the data. Furthermore, robust quotes with rich narratives from multiple participants

are used to support the findings.

Researcher’s Role

As the sole data collection instrument, it was necessary to identify and acknowledge the

personal values and identities of the researcher that may shape the findings because qualitative

research can be interpretative (Creswell, 2014). My connections and interest with student

Veteran experience in community colleges stemmed from graduate coursework in student

development. My identity as a civilian influences the way I viewed the narratives of student

Veterans. On one hand, I did not have a military experience that may bias data analysis and my

educational and professional experiences allowed me to view the data from a student

development and social justice perspective. On the other hand, a lack of extensive military
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knowledge may have allowed for potential misinterpretations and/or assumptions about military

and Veteran culture. To address these potential influences, my civilian identity and the honest

interest and purpose of the study was made known to the participants. Furthermore, gatekeepers

of the study provided access to the Veteran Student Center and to the participants to secure

permission for the study (Creswell, 2014).

Another factor that may influence data analysis is the researcher’s educational

background. I have not attended or worked at a community college, therefore potential biases

and assumptions may shape the findings. However, to address the potential influences, the

methodology and findings reference existing literature on the mission and role of community

colleges.

Findings

One of the influential factors of the student Veteran experience was the familial

community that is fostered at South Seattle College. What seemed to exceed expectations for

student Veterans transitioning to South Seattle College was the presence of a Veteran community

connected by personal relationships and shared identities. Phil, an administrator who worked

closely with student Veterans stated, “The students I serve, and I have this unique relationship

with. I look at them first as Veterans, as my brothers and sisters, and then they’re students here.”

Furthermore, administrators who worked closely with student Veterans developed a sense of

advocacy and Veteran representation through personal care for student Veterans. Mickey, a

student, had positive experiences with WorkSource, the career center on campus. “They all try

to chip in whenever they’re here at the Veteran Center. They always are like ‘Oh, we need to

help the Veterans’. They are always very, very, very, very eager to help.” Although other

students did not describe salient experiences with services outside of WorkSource and Veteran-
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specific services, all students indicated satisfaction with the Veteran Service Desk, where Bob

was called when he was accidentally dropped from his program, and Black who said, “Yeah this

is the only Veterans Center Desk at this college that actually helped me enroll.” George, an

administrator, observed similar experiences with the staff at the Veteran Service Desk, “That

[she] is an awesome person, she is the one who [works at] the Veteran Affairs office, and there

are student Veterans who are there, and they consider her like a mom. So there's a real

personable relationships, kind of experience for students.”

All of the student Veterans saw the Veteran Student Center a safe space for student

Veterans. Jerry explained the welcoming feeling of the Veteran community in the Veteran

Student Center. “I like coming here, I feel welcome. I didn't have to come in here, ‘Okay, who

do I have to talk to, I must make friends with. Hey, yeah, I'll talk to you, talk to you.’ All my

problems, I can talk about it. I don't feel judged, we're good to go.” This sense of community,

family, and teamwork was reflective of the military culture and helped students transition to

civilian life and the community college culture.

The Classroom Environment

A common theme that influenced the experience of student Veterans at South Seattle

across the student Veterans was the classroom environment. Students in transfer and collegiate

programs who were interviewed described that their interactions with some faculty and other

students had been challenging during their time at South Seattle College. Black explained that

the power dynamic between teacher and student can be frustrating:

That we’re adults and to talk to us as so, that’s all. Most of my classes have been 16-18

year olds that are all Running Start, so it’s different. It’s hard for me to interact with

them and then the teacher interactions are different in those classes…And it’s like taking
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everything out of me to not say something back, cause he’s got that power over me that I

can’t stand.

Similarly, Cebon stated,

…teachers ask us questions, knowing that we're Veterans with a lot experience and

perspectives, and the subject matter pertains directly to us, asks a question, and then run

over us. That is one of the most, it's so frustrating. It's beyond, it's baffling actually,

because to me, speaking from my experience, I'm thinking I'm an adult having a

conversation…I know exactly what you’re talking about, you’re not letting me speak.

As most student Veterans are considered non-traditional students, and come to the classroom

with extensive experiences and perspectives, the students found the classroom to be challenging

to enter a dialogue with younger students and faculty. An administrator described the classroom

environment as a challenge for student Veterans, “But then burned by the fact that they’re older

and they have challenges in the classroom with maturity and weak instructors that allow things to

get chaotic and angry, and Veterans will often get very angry by that.”

Some instructors were found not to be understanding of the common challenges for

student Veterans, such as PTSD and TBI, and how these challenges could be triggered in a

classroom. Cebon explains, “… there is a lot of trigger points [for student Veterans], the faculty

and staff just need to be aware of that. On the one hand we sound like we’re cry babies looking

for attention and like cater to us, cater to us, but it’s like, mmm, we’re all like PTSD and TBI.”

Black and Cebon’s frustrations with disrespectfulness and lack of awareness turned to feeling

repressed. “I’m just, I’m torn between shutting down and just being louder, and that’s very

frustrating.” Although these experiences were not expressed across the students in

professional/technical programs, Bob described similar frustrations with faculty at a previous
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four-year institution in a non-professional/technical program. The classroom is an important

space for students at a community college because of the nature of being a commuter campus,

therefore, this is an important aspect for change and improvement for the classroom experience

for all non-traditional students, not only student Veterans.

Institutional Structure and Support

Through the institutional structure, South Seattle College had strengths and challenges to

promoting access, equity and diversity for student Veterans. High administrative support from

the President down hds been identified as a strength of the campus by both administrators. Phil

described South Seattle College as a “very supportive campus culture of altruistic educators that

appreciate diversity and appreciate adult learners and willing to support them.” With the support

of administrators with positional authority and an Advisory Committee for Veteran students, the

student Veteran population was symbolically important to the campus diversity and was a way to

levy resources for programs that support student Veterans. Furthermore, Phil explained how the

placement of the Veteran Student Center under the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion put

a social justice lens on the work done by the Center.

So sort of being exposed to social justice and trying to figure out how I can incorporate

that into serving Veterans and I like to I sort of, the way I frame that is that Veterans have

had this function as global actors, so maybe the Veteran Student Center can be a resource

to promote global citizenship and human rights… Our student population broadly have

all kinds of barriers and Veterans are just one group, it actually makes my work easier

because I don't have to advocate for a marginalized population of students, everybody's

advocating for everybody, as opposed to an affluent White suburb, Veterans might feel a

little more disconnected from the student population.
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 22  
 
Although there was support across campus for student Veterans, including the Veteran

Services Desk, one student Veteran and two administrators stated that connection between the

Veteran Services Desk and the Veteran Student Center was weak. A supervisor of the Veteran

Student Center explained the challenge, “We need to restructure, and do some better bridge

building so that it’s comprehensive between Veteran Affairs and Veteran Student Center”.

Cebon elaborates the need for this bridge, “…over there at the Veteran Service Desk, it feels like

a different entity and it shouldn’t be because the program for Veteran support is really loosely

structured.”

Lastly, the coordinator role was described as integral to the social justice work and

student Veteran experience in the Veteran Student Center by George, an administrator, “I think

that part of that is having someone in the Center … that’s part of creating not just mouth, but

action around it, so I again, give credit to Phil for that.” However, both administrators described

the complexity of the role, “I’m not as present in the Veteran Student Center as I should be. I

might have off campus obligations that one department wants me at, meanwhile there is a student

on campus that needs me. Tough luck student. I’m doing my job.” Multiple direct and indirect

reports, different perspectives of success, and the tension between off-campus outreach and on-

campus student support influences the work that could be done.

Sustainability

Across the interviews, a strong theme of sustainability emerged that influenced the

student Veteran experience. One of the problems with sustainability of a positive student

Veteran experience and support was building legitimacy through data, tracking, outreach,

recruitment, and retention. Phil suggests,
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 23  
 
It’s a more functional space than it was when I got here. And that one would lead to

believe or want to believe from that, that we are increasing persistence and retention by

just creating a space for Veterans to feel connected… It’s all anecdotal, I’m not

crunching data yet for lack of capacity, however, that’s a goal.

George explained further, “The other challenge is that too, that there’s not a way of really

figuring out who is a Veteran, and because we only know who is using Veteran Affairs funding,

but there’s no way to really track that…” Cebon, a student Veteran, explained the lack of

outreach and recruitment she had when she was transitioning out of the military. “I want to bring

in Air Force Veterans, I know when I was getting out, I was trying to find a school and I looked

at places, I never even heard of South Seattle College before.”

Furthermore, the high value of the experiences of the student Veterans was from caring

administrators, however, the administrators identified that the small number of student Veterans

poses an issue. “I’ve [Phil] tried to evolve the programming to be more broadly serving so that

we can engage with more students because we only have a little more than 200 students, so it’s

hard to justify a full-time employee, let alone a student staff for such a small group of students.”

Other influential factors that influence the sustainability of student Veteran support the

funding and physical space. The Veteran Student Center itself and the community that the

student workers and coordinators have built were funded by services and activities fees rather

than through budget items. George, a mid-level administrator, went on to explain changes to the

physical spaces, “…the building is going to get torn down, I’m not sure where [the Veteran

Student Center is] going, but they’re going to move. And we won’t build our Activities Center,

that won’t be built until after [the building is torn down]”. With the removal of the building,

movement of the Veteran Student Center, and summer closures, the continuity of the physical
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 24  
 
space was compromised and could have affected the sustainability of the student Veteran

community. Outreach to the community, tracking students and collecting data, broad

programming, and consistent funding are all factors that affected and influenced the

sustainability of quality student Veteran support.

Implications

Data, Tracking, and Sustainability

There are many strengths to the student Veteran support at South Seattle College,

including the personal relationships and sense of community that has been developed.

Therefore, it is recommended that South Seattle College focus on sustaining these strengths and

working towards longevity. By increasing outreach and recruiting efforts through the

coordinator position, a VetCorps Navigator position, and word of mouth, increased numbers of

student Veterans could legitimize staffing, budgets, and funds dedicated to student Veteran

support.

Furthermore, accurate data and tracking of Veteran Student Center use and academic

progress, persistence, and retention would provide further evidence of legitimizing resources and

inform ways to link transition support and community to academic retention and progress. This

has implications for South Seattle College as part of Project Finish Line, which involved

completion coaches to improve students’ program completion and transfer rates (Puget Sound

Educational Service District, 2016; South Seattle College, 2016e). Lastly, the key resource for

student Veteran support is the personal relationships with staff and the community those

relationships build and has been shown to influence a positive transition for student Veterans

(Francis & Kraus, 2012). These findings provide implications for staff turnover and training to

continue the work of key essential staff members.
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 25  
 
Professional Development for Faculty

Based on the findings of classroom experience, further professional development is

recommended for faculty. Although there is evidence that staff and faculty understand and

support student Veterans, their needs to be more professional development related to the

classroom experience. Misunderstanding of Veteran culture and experiences can act as a form of

oppression for student Veterans (Francis & Kraus, 2012; Wheeler, 2012), which was shown in

the narrative experiences in this study. As a non-residential community and technical college,

South Seattle College students spend majority of their experiences in the classroom, therefore,

these spaces and experiences must be able to foster discussion and perspectives and value the

strengths of student Veterans, such as self-discipline, leadership, teamwork, and new and

valuable perspectives and experiences (Olsen, Badger, and McCuddy, 2014). In particular in

spaces where there is a wide variety of age, ranging from high school-aged Running Start

students to older students. The findings provide insight into improving classroom experiences

for non-traditional students with diverse student perspectives.

Campus Collaborations and Opportunities

The findings indicate that student Veterans would benefit from a more connected bridge

of communication between the Veteran Student Center and the Veteran Service Desk. Student

and administrator interviews revealed that both the Center and the Desk are supportive services

and have opportunities to build relationships with staff, however, communication needs to

improve between the two so that both services can improve and be a support for a student who

might be lose momentum in a flurry of referrals.

Furthermore, the findings revealed that it can be challenging to legitimize staff to serve

just student Veterans. With partnerships across campus that include programming other students
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 26  
 
and student groups can be a way to broadly serve more students, while maintaining the Veteran

Student Center for specifically student Veterans. With the support across campus to address

social justice in higher education and to advocate for all marginalized student populations, these

partnerships can serve as ways to promote global citizenship among student Veterans. Lastly,

collaboration with other services and departments must be re-prioritized, because the students

who were interviewed mostly only used Veteran-specific services. Integration of academic and

student services, such as advising, tutoring, Veterans Affairs benefits certification, and disability

services has been shown to create a Veteran-friendly college environment (Burnett & Segoria,

2009; Rumann & Hamrick, 2010; Wheeler, 2012).

Recommendations for Future Research

This study has implications for future research concerning the academic and retention

outcomes of student Veteran support and best practices, such as a Veteran Student Center. With

that research, institutions can improve services for student Veterans and legitimize resources,

especially in the context of higher education’s external market-driven influences to retain

students and increased program completion for students in community colleges.

Another area for future research concerns the outreach of community colleges to local

military installations. Not all institutions have a coordinator who does recruitment and outreach

into the community. Research should be done to highlight promising practices to engage and

connect with military installations. The findings revealed that recruitment and outreach were

weak and the student Veterans did not hear about South Seattle College through traditional

outreach methods. Future research on promising recruiting and community partnership practices

can lead to informed decisions and actions to promote sustainability.
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 27  
 
Proposed Action Plan and Timeline

An action plan was developed to address the recommendations from the implications and

the findings. The main purpose of this action plan is to foster sustainability and is intended to be

used as proposed guidelines for the next two years and beyond based on the findings and

interviews of administrators and students. The action plan is geared towards students and

administrators at South Seattle College who work with student Veterans, and also for high-level

administrators to understand the influence of maintaining strengths and working towards

sustainability. Overall, the action plan focuses on outreach and recruitment, practices to

legitimize resources, and fostering communication and competency in and out of the classroom.

A detailed timeline is found in Appendix C.

Strategies to Promote Sustainability

Initiatives must be taken to ensure the sustainability of the Veteran Student Center and

student support for Veterans. Assessments of the Veteran Student Center and data collection of

use and other factors such as academic progress and retention must be institutionalized for the

Center. Qualitative data and narratives must also be formally documented to be able to use for

research and assessment purposes. It is recommended that this process could be initiated through

an internship for a Student Development Administration graduate student at Seattle University,

in close collaboration with the new VetCorps Navigator and the Veteran Transition Specialist.

The intern would provide the capacity to implement data collection. The current enrollment

form to enroll in courses at South Seattle College allows options for students to identify as a

student Veteran. Collaboration with Enrollment Services is recommended to obtain this data and

potentially reach out to students who are not using services or the Center to provide support.
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 28  
 
Based on the findings, personal and caring relationships with staff members are strengths

of South Seattle College. To sustain this sense of community and family among administrators,

an ongoing recommendation is to engage in hiring and on boarding practices that promotes

continuity of supportive staff. Hiring staff members who express a commitment to the student

Veteran community and familial relationships will sustain the support across staff turnover.

Furthermore, effective on boarding, training, and implementation of the VetCorps Navigator will

further the goal of sustainability of support.

Professional Development for Faculty

Based on the findings, the classroom environment must be improved for students within

the next year and beyond, in particular non-traditional students and student Veterans who come

to the classroom with a variety of experiences and perspectives. Further training must be done

for faculty to improve the classroom environment. Beginning with the collaboration of the

VetCorps Navigator, Veteran Transition Specialist, Disability Services, and faculty Veterans,

trainings and professional development opportunities can occur for faculty to understand

common challenges for student Veterans, such as disability, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD.

Furthermore, these trainings and other programming towards student Veteran awareness must

centralize the strengths that student Veterans come into the classroom with.

More than just training surrounding student veterans in the classroom, the findings

indicate that there needs to be trainings or understandings of faculty to be able to manage

classrooms that have traditional and non-traditional aged students, particularly in classes that

tend to have Running Start students. Integration of dialogue in the classroom that validates

experiences and encourages different perspectives is a way to improve the classroom climate for

student Veterans and non-traditional aged students.
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 29  
 
Programming and Collaboration Across Campus

Although the support at the Veteran Services Desk was a strength at South Seattle

College, students and administrators would benefit from more connections and communication

with the Veteran Services Desk. Ultimately, this communication would be strengthened if the

Veteran Services Desk and Veteran Student Center were co-located in the same building.

Furthermore, this would create a closer community and allow more traffic through the Veteran

Student Center, and increase the likelihood of student Veterans participating in the community.

Furthermore, it is recommended to partner with Disability Support Services to increase access to

other student services other than Veteran-specific services.

Within the next year, with the assistance of the VetCorps Navigator, it is recommended

to have programming that serves a broad student population, not just student Veterans.

Collaboration with other student organizations will allows student Veterans to connect outside of

their community and justify staffing resources to serve the broader South Seattle community.

Lastly, it is recommended to build a robust and informative website for student Veterans.

This would require collaboration between multiple departments on campus, including

information technology, Veteran Services Desk, and the Veteran Student Center. An accessible

and comprehensive website was identified as a best practice at several community colleges, and

would increase marketing for outreach, and provide accessible information, such as forms,

programming, and who and where to go for support.

Conclusion

Veterans have a strong historical connection with higher education through educational

benefits. Their student Veteran status, relatively small population on college campuses, and

barriers to equitable services marginalizes student Veterans. Students Veterans enter or re-enter
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 30  
 
college with multiple intersecting identities and challenges as non-traditional students and need

support through their transition and student experience to navigate the education system and

create an understanding and trusting community. This study explored the student Veteran

support and experiences at South Seattle College, and found strengths in community building

through personal relationships and institutional support; however, challenges in the classroom

were identified with faculty and other traditional students. The results had implications and

recommendations that focused on sustainability, particularly in the dynamic context of a

community college. This study provided the space for student Veterans and administrators who

work with student Veterans at South Seattle College to express their perspectives and share their

narratives in order to promote equity, access, diversity, and social justice. The nature and

purpose of student affairs practice, particularly in community colleges, seeks to further this

mission through advocating for marginalized student populations, such as student Veterans, who

bring a wealth of experiences and perspectives, and have a set of barriers and challenges to

succeed in higher education. Through critical and practical research, faculty and administrators

can seek to further and improve support for student Veterans.

Reflection

Some of the strengths I have throughout this research process were engagement with

interviewees and students, building our learning community, and adapting and being flexible

during the project. I felt that my interactions and interviews with administrators and students

Veterans were positive and that they were reciprocal in that I felt that they wanted to assist me

with my project and provide their prospective to contribute to the results in order to inform the

recommendations. Also, in conducting the research, I felt invested in the success and support for

the Veteran Student Center and the student Veteran community at South Seattle College. This
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 31  
 
mutual reciprocity in this project was important for me in order to conduct ethical and purposeful

research.

Another strength involved providing timely and constructive feedback with my

classmates, and also fostering a learning community by organizing writing and editing sessions

together. This support was important for our small class, especially because the project was

independent, and allowed us to discuss ideas and writing research proposals. Lastly, a personal

strength was being adaptable and flexible in the data collection and writing process. As someone

who enjoys structure, I decided to take on this opportunity to be flexible with my interviewees

and how the student Veterans could participate in the research. Although I was flexible, I

persisted with communication so that the interviews were scheduled. Overall, I felt that

conducting this research project was an opportunity to grow as an independent learner.

Limitations

Although there were strengths throughout this process, time management and

understanding the institutional context were some challenges and weaknesses to the study.

During the time of data collection, I struggled with maintaining my personal timeline. This

affected the quality of work done later because I did not allow myself as much time as I would

have liked for personal, peer and faculty editing and reviews. Another weakness stems from

conducting a study at a college that I am unfamiliar with. I would have liked to spend more time

understanding the institutional context and the leadership and governance that affects moving

forward with initiatives with supporting student Veterans to better inform my action plan and

timeline.
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 32  
 
Professional Perspective

As a professional, I saw an integration of my coursework in the work that I was doing as

a researcher. I saw the influence of the organizational and reporting structure to the capacity of

the work that can be done. Furthermore, I witnessed the effects of leadership frameworks and

styles, and the supervisory relationship that can promote and inform the work as a practitioner

advocating and supporting marginalized students. As a practitioner, I have struggled with my

identity in this program as an activist and advocate for students and where my role is. This

research project allowed me an opportunity to see successful advocacy work succeed and the

influence on student Veterans, which re-lit my passion for purposeful, intentional work with

students. I plan to bring this to my work currently as an academic advisor by engaging in more

conversations with students about access, equity, and social justice, and to learn and understand

more about marginalized student populations to best serve them in my role.

Researcher Perspective

Coming from a psychology and biology background at my undergraduate institution, I

felt unprepared to do qualitative research for this study. I believe I even had assumptions and

biases that qualitative research was less powerful, useful, and respected than quantitative

research. Through this study, I stretched myself by practicing qualitative research practices, such

as open-ended questions and allowing the interviews be the story. I discovered the power of

qualitative research, especially in furthering social justice and diversity. I learned that qualitative

research provides space for perspectives and voices to be heard, and the narratives that the

students and administrators I interviewed were powerful and passionate.

Going into this study, I did not understand the difference between research and

practitioner research. Throughout the classes and by developing my action plan and timeline, I
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 33  
 
learned that student development and practitioner research is very intentional and focused on

how the findings can actually used to inform our practice. This has an element of realism and

practicality to the results.

Social Justice

In conducting this research project, I learned more about diversity, social justice, and

equity, not only for student Veterans and non-traditional students, but also in the context of

community colleges. I was constantly surprised with the infusion of social justice values at

South Seattle College and that it not only at Jesuit institutions. My engagement with community

colleges has continually challenged my assumptions and biases about community colleges and

has been a personal and critical theme for me during the past two quarters. Although I learned

about the values, characteristics, and strengths of community colleges during the American

Community College course, during this quarter, my engagement with students and the Veteran

Student Center space provided me with the opportunity to really see and experience the social

justice values, quality of support, programming, and advocacy for marginalized students, and the

ability to quickly adapt to the needs of the students.

Furthermore, this project was a way for me to practice multicultural competency skills

rather than just knowledge. Through ethical leadership in my research, I was intentional with the

purpose of the work that would be practical and useful, and adapted to the student Veteran

participants and culture of the Center by adjusting the interview protocol and meeting students

where they were.
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 34  
 
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STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 38  
 
Appendix A

Demographic Questionnaire – Administrators

Name: _____________________________ Pseudonym: ______________________________

1. Races/Ethnicities: ____________________________________

2. Gender: ___________________ or Prefer Not to Answer

3. I identify as a member of the LGBTIQ community: Yes or No or Prefer Not to Answer

4. I identify as a Veteran: Yes or No

5. I identify as the first person in my family to attend college: Yes or No

6. Current Professional Position: __________________________ for ____ number of years

7. Previous Professional Positions:

8. I have worked professionally with (circle all that apply):

a. Veteran communities

b. Low income communities

c. First generation college students

d. Students with disabilities

e. Students of color

9. Is there anything else relevant about your professional work that you think would be

helpful for me to know?
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 39  
 
Demographic Questionnaire – Students

Name: _____________________________ Pseudonym: ______________________________

1. Races/Ethnicities: ______________________________________________________

2. Gender: ____________________ or Prefer Not to Answer

3. I identify as a member of the LGBTIQ community. Yes or No or Prefer Not to Answer

4. Program of Study: _______________________________________________________

a. How many credits/quarters have you completed at South Seattle College?

Credits: ______ Quarters: ______

5. Are you currently involved in student organizations or activities? Yes or No

a. If yes, please specify: ______________________________________________

6. Are you currently employed? Yes or No

a. Position: _____________________

b. Years/Months in position: ___________

c. Number of hours you work per week: 0-10 10-20 20-30 30-40+

d. Is your position on campus? Yes or No

i. If yes, is it a work-study position? Yes or No

7. How long have you been out of the service (years/months)? _____________________

8. Do you identify with having a disability (invisible or visible)? Yes or No

9. Are you the first member of your family to attend college? Yes or No

10. Indicate resources you have used on campus (Circle all that apply).

a. Academic Advising

b. Counseling

c. Veterans Student Center
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 40  
 
d. Veteran Affairs Service Desk

e. Tutoring

f. WorkSource - Career Center

g. Orientation

h. Online Resources

i. Disability Support Services

j. Library

k. Child Care Center

l. Cultural Center

m. Gender Equity Center

n. Other(s): _________________________________

11. Briefly describe any academic/career goals, such as transfer, vocational/occupational

education, developmental education, program/certificate/degree completion:
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 41  
 
Appendix B

Interview Protocol - Administrators

I want to thank you for taking the time to participate in this discussion about support

services and support for Veteran students. My name is Lauren Van Fossen, and I am currently a

graduate student in the Student Development Administration program at Seattle University,

where I also work as an Academic Advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences. I am interested

in Veteran student support, as I have recently studied in my graduate curriculum the challenges

in access, equity, and inclusion for Veteran students in higher education and I have become more

aware of these challenges through my advising role. This interview will last about an hour and I

will be recording the interview to accurately report your responses. To maintain confidentiality,

I asked you all to provide pseudonyms for yourself on the Demographic Questionnaire.

Questions

1. Please share your professional journey and how it led to your current position.

a. Tell me more about your role with Veteran students.

b. What led you to working with Veteran students?

c. How did you find yourself working at a community college?

2. Tell me a little bit about the strengths of your campus in supporting the Veteran student

experience and transition.

a. What do you do well in your office in supporting Veteran students?

b. How did those strengths evolve over time?

c. How do these strengths impact students?

d. What needs to be fixed when it comes to supporting Veteran students?

e. What is missing to support Veteran students?
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 42  
 

3. Tell me a little about the challenges of your campus in supporting the Veteran student

experience and transition.

a. How do these challenges impact your work with Veteran students?

b. How do these challenges impact students?

4. How do you/your office view access, equity, and social justice for Veteran students on

this campus?

a. Is there anything in particular you’re proud of in this area?

5. Is there anything else you would like to share about services and support for student

Veterans that was not covered in our discussion?

Interview Protocol - Students

I want to thank you for taking the time to participate in this discussion about the Veteran

student experience and transition at South Seattle College. My name is Lauren Van Fossen, and

I am currently a graduate student in the Student Development Administration program at Seattle

University, where I also work as an Academic Advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences. This

focus group will last about an hour and I will be recording the interview to accurately report your

responses. To maintain confidentiality, I have asked you all to provide pseudonyms for yourself

on the Demographic Questionnaire.

Questions

1. How did you come to attend South Seattle College?

a. How would you describe your experience at South Seattle so far? Academically?

Socially?
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 43  
 
2. How have your experiences been like with student services on campus?

a. Please share an experience that you have had with student services or Veteran

services.

b. What has been helpful to you?

c. What is broken?

d. What needs fixing?

e. What would you like to see on your campus?

3. What support did you expect as during your transition/adjustment from military life to

Veteran student life?

a. What support did you get?

b. What are some of the challenges you have come across as a Veteran student?

Academically? Socially?

4. What recommendations would you give for faculty or staff to support Veteran students in

their transition and the student experience?

a. What can be improved for you?

b. What can be improved for future veteran students?

c. What would you like staff and faculty to understand about transitioning for

Veteran students?

5. Is there anything else you would like to share about services and support for student

Veterans that was not covered in our discussion?
STUDENT VETERAN SUPPORT AT SOUTH SEATTLE COLLEGE 44  
 
Appendix C

Proposed Action Steps and Timeline

Time Period Action Steps Collaborators Resources
0-1 year • Implement VetCorps Navigator • Veteran Transition • SDA research
Position and identify goals based on Specialist • Time to meet with
research and key stakeholders • VetCorps Navigator key stakeholders
• Create an SDA internship for • SDA • Supervisor role
implementing data collection and • VetCorps Navigator required
assessment for Veteran Student • Veteran Transition • Unpaid internship
Center, support, and academic Specialist
completion outcomes
• Re-evaluate and re-define Veteran • Vet. Transition Specialist
Transition Specialist Role, in • SOAR
conjunction with the roles of the • Office of Equity, Diversity,
VetCorps Navigator and Inclusion
• Other departmental reports
• Vet Corps Navigator
• Integrate broadly-serving • Student Veteran • Programming budget
programming with other student Association with Student Life
organizations and student services • Disability Support Services
on campus • Student Life
1-2 years • Research and begin implementation • SOAR • Capacity or intern to
of best outreach practices to • Veteran Transition research outreach
promote South Seattle College Specialist practices
• Social and community
resources to implement
outreach
• Begin integration of academic • Academic advisors • Veteran-specific
services and student Veteran • Tutor Center training
support, through tutoring or Veteran • Compensation for
specific academic advising tutors/advisors
• Continue to provide professional • President’s Advisory • Incentives to attend
development opportunities for Committee on Veterans trainings
faculty and staff
• Launch a more robust website, • Information Technology • Training to edit
including forms, the different ways Services website
to be involved as a Veteran, and a • VA Service Desk
new checklist • Veteran Student Center
2 years and • Continue to provide annual • President’s Advisory • Incentives to attend
beyond professional development Committee on Veterans trainings
opportunities for faculty and staff
• Hiring and on-boarding practices for • President’s Advisory
staff who work closely with student Committee on Veterans
Veterans to continue support • Veteran Services Desk
• WorkSource
• With new buildings, co-locate • Executive-level • Physical space
Veteran Services Desk and Veteran administrators • Political capital and
Student Center • Veteran Services Desk financial resources to
• Veteran Student Center rearrange offices