Campus participation in training module to help Office of Veterans Affairs earn grant award

April 9, 2018

Faculty and staff are encouraged to complete training by May 30

There’s an opportunity to learn more about inclusive behaviors and help the campus gain grant money for veterans’ programming.

All within 30 minutes. And at your desk.

Office of Veterans Affairs Coordinator Tom Pitock said the Veterans on Campus Training module—distributed by the Consortium of Michigan Veterans Educators—gives faculty and staff tips on how to best help campus veterans. At the log-in screen, use your campus email and michiganvets as the password.

Pitock said the training allows people to have simulated conversations with virtual humans where people learn, practice and self-assess their ability to manage conversations that can lead to positive changes in veterans’ social, emotional and physical health.

“Simulations allow you to experiment with conversations and no one gets hurt or embarrassed on either side. Sometimes people might not know how to approach a veteran with a concern or might not know how to best engage them in a politically focused classroom discussion,” said Pitock, adding that the health simulations used are listed in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices.

Upon completion, participants are given a certificate to print and place on a door or in an office, letting veterans—there currently are more than 175 on campus—know that they are welcome.

The Office of Veterans Affairswill be rewarded a $500 student veteran challenge grant if 83 UM-Dearborn faculty and staff complete the training by May 30, a target number based on student enrollment. Pitock said the grant, if earned, would go toward campus programming for veterans.

“These are people who have had a four-, six-, 10-, 20-year contract with the military and now are coming to school. It can be a very difficult transition,” he said. “Taking a training like this shows our student veterans that you are supportive and have an awareness of the unique challenges they may face.”

The simulations address challenges such as the loss of a direct chain of command—something military personnel were trained to depend on; stigma—even unintentional—toward military service, and the adjustment from active service to student.

Pitock said when he enrolled in college after retiring from a 20-plus year career in the Coast Guard, he had to adjust to life in higher education.

“Even something as simple as learning how to take tests, learning how to be a student again, is difficult. I had to take remedial classes at the beginning, but after I learned how to be a student, I found I was really good at it,” he said. “But it can be embarrassing when that is difficult, especially when you’ve already had so much life experience.

“When you combine that with not knowing who to ask since there is no real chain of command, we might not matriculate a veteran student if we don’t connect them to resources.” Pitock said if a faculty or staff member is unsure of which resource is best, connect the veteran to the campus’ Office of Veterans Affairs.

With their solid leadership foundation, Pitock said veterans have a lot to offer the workforce and their communities. He said a college degree will help veterans become more skilled, marketable, connected and financially stable.

“We are all here to help our students succeed so they can better themselves, their families, their communities and more,” he said. “So let’s work together and do what we can to let our veterans know that we support them and their educational goals.”

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