Learning from the Field: A Veteran's Panel Discussion

Since the Post-9/11 GI Bill was passed in 2009, close to 1 million veterans, service members, and eligible dependents have taken advantage of the educational benefits available to them.  The transition between active military service and civilian life, often referred to as reintegration or readjustment, directly impacts the way veteran students engage in their academic experience.  "Over 62 percent of Post-9/11 GI bill beneficiaries are first generation learners," said Wendy Lang.  

This week, we talked with Wendy Lang from Operation College Promise and MSG Adam Martinez, Northeast Region Deputy Director from Soldier for Life on their veteran's panel session at the Annual Meeting.

See this session and others at AACRAO's 101st Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD.  Register today!

Wendy Lang


Operation College Promise

Master Sergeant Adam Martinez

Northeast Region Deputy Director

Soldier for Life, U.S. Army

Learning from the Field: A Veteran's Panel Discussion

Monday, April 13, 2015 10:45 AM - 11:45 AM

Tell us a little something about your session.

Lang: This panel presents an opportunity to provide a deeper look into the unique and complicated culture of military service.  This is something we do at our organization's trainings that we've found is very impactful, especially in the academic environment.  By hearing veterans talk about their actual experiences in transitioning from active military service to civilian life, universities will be better able to support this particular group  throughout their college experience.

Who are the panelists in this session, and how does your background contribute to this conversation?

Martinez: I've been with the Army for 19 years.  Currently, I'm working in the chief of staff's office in the Soldier for Life Program.  What we do is travel the United States in our respected regions and gather up all the resources that are available for our transitioning service men, women and their families.  Whether it's employment opportunities, continuing education or additional health resources, we bring that back to our soldiers and their families so they are aware of what's available to them before or during their transition process.

Lang: My background is predominantly in state government.  I worked in K-12 education and now in higher education.  I come from an army family, and when the Post-9/11 GI Bill passed, I saw an opportunity to blend my two passions: veterans and higher education.  

We built Operation College Promise to with the intent of ensuring that our campuses were well equipped to welcome service members and veterans to campus and assist them towards a degree.  The Certificate for Veteran Service Providers is our signature training program built to assist our nine founding college campuses to create programs and services to support this very distinct and different incoming population.  In response to a growing need, we now take the training program across the country to help colleges and universities nationwide to build these programs and services.

We have one panelist from Stockton College who's going to speak specifically about a comprehensive program he built there and its impact on assisting the reintegration process on a college campus.  We will also have two gentlemen who will talk about their firsthand experience with reintegration.

Martinez: The Stockton College Program is phenomenal.  I try to share that program to as many educators that I meet.

What are some key lessons that you hope attendees will learn from this session?

Lang: We want to better acquaint AACRAO members with firsthand accounts of service members and veterans' actual reintegration.  

Martinez:  I think we share the same goal with colleges and universities -- stay on the college path and successfully graduate.  Veterans have a tough time on a variety of levels from academic advising, to prior learning credits and adjusting to campus culture.

Lang: The phrase we like to use at OCP is, "To, Through and Beyond."  It's fantastic to get these service members and veterans to campus, but what we need to be focused on is that they complete the college experience and continue beyond to a career.  

What are you looking forward to at the Annual Meeting?

Lang: This is my first time at the AACRAO Annual Meeting.  I think it's encouraging that AACRAO has such sincere enthusiasm in addressing this population.

Martinez: I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get the message out there and also see what other institutions are doing.