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The veterans academic engagement initiative shares the overall mission of Arizona State University in helping students from diverse backgrounds successfully attain their educational and career goals. The initiative also recognizes the distinct differences of the "non-traditional" veteran-student--generally older, more likely to be married and have a family, and who might suffer from combat injuries or transition issues that impact academic performance. Veterans are more likely to have lived and worked in many locations in the U.S. far from their homes or in foreign countries, and are empowered by comparative and global perspectives. Those who serve have also experienced a disciplinary regime that differs from that of most civilians, and many have received training in a variety of technical and managerial skills.
The veterans initiative seeks to identify faculty and staff with military experience or interest in military and veterans' issues and to involve veteran-students in ongoing research by faculty, especially those projects that might benefit from a veteran's experience and training. The initiative will also offer platforms to hear veterans' voices on a range of issues, in lectures and discussions with local and visiting experts. Our hope is to incorporate veterans' voices and concerns in existing curricula and to design new courses, with a possible goal of a university-wide certificate in veteran and military studies.
The core of the initiative, and a model for the exchange of knowledge and experience between veteran-students and "traditional" students, is a course which has as its primary assignment an oral history of a veteran from our recent wars, preferably a veteran-student. This interactive course exposes students to some of the best literature on the human experience of war and its costs, through readings and discussion of memoirs, fiction, historical and anthropological studies, as well as veteran-student's personal accounts. In addition, other classes will place our most recent wars in the context of other conflicts, such as Vietnam and World War II and other countries' experience of similar wars.