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KU has 1,500+ military-affiliated students on our five campuses. This is more than double than the student athlete population and comparable to the international student population.
While military-affiliated students are as diverse as the university itself, they all share a common bond through military service – whether they wear/wore the uniform for our nation and/or are a part of the military family. Here are some nationwide characteristics of student veterans in particular.
Students from military backgrounds often bring leadership experience, maturity, resiliency, mission focus, and a diverse set of life experiences to the classroom.
At the same time, transitioning from the military world can pose challenges for some students – whether it’s navigating different bureaucracies, battling stereotypes regarding military service, finding other students to relate to, returning to academia after an extended period, etc. Some students may also have service-connected disabilities.
Our goal at the Military-Affiliated Student Center is to serve as a resource for faculty and staff who may be unfamiliar with the military culture. Together, we can enable our military-affiliated students to succeed in their transition to the university, in the classroom, and in their future endeavors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Words carry weight. How we refer to students can be the difference between being inclusive and exclusive of their military-affiliated identity/identities.
Student veterans – those who have served and/or are currently serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Space Force. They may be, or may have been, on Active Duty, in the Reserves, and/or in the National Guard.
- It's important to be aware that some students, however, do not self-identify as a "veteran." This can be because of Title 38 of the U.S. Code which legally defines "veteran" for certain VA benefits purposes, excluding Guard/Reservists who have not been called to federal active duty, for example. Also, some women don't self-identify as "veterans," despite their veteran status.
Veteran student– While it's common to use student-first language, this is a term not to be used because of its double meaning. Some may try to use it to mean a "student veteran," but a veteran student can also mean a student who can't quite seem to get to graduation. Read more about why we recommend you not use this term.
Military students – is a more specific term than veterans, as it refers only to those currently serving in the military – Active Duty, Reserves, National Guard.
Military-affiliated students – is a more inclusive term that includes veterans, their spouses, their dependents (their children), and ROTC cadets and midshipmen. This term is especially helpful when you are unsure of their specific military affiliation/identity.
KU provides accommodations for military students who may be mobilized or receive orders that may conflict with their class schedules. University Senate Rules and Regulations ensure students who are activated at any time have the opportunity to make up scheduled examinations, quizzes, or tests.
The University also has a step-by-step guide for students called to deploy who need to withdraw from classes.
Being called to fulfill service obligations during the academic year can be stressful for students. Flexibility and empathy from faculty and staff can really help.
Tips for Faculty & Staff:
- Be mindful about stereotypes, generalizations and making assumptions regarding military-affiliated students, including regarding combat experience, any challenges they may/may not face, political/religious beliefs, their willingness and interest in discussing military service, etc.
- Remember that military-affiliated students are as diverse as the university itself – with a variety of identities and all types of backgrounds/life experiences. If students self-identify as veterans or military-affiliated, it helps to get to know them better and ask questions if you aren’t sure.
- Recognize that military-affiliated students may be post-traditional students with multiple roles, such as parent, spouse, employee, and/or Reserve/Guard member. Encourage communication and show flexibility to help the student cope with these many demands.
- It is NEVER appropriate for anyone to ask student veterans if they have killed someone. Be ready to step in and shut down this query in a classroom (or anywhere) should it come up.
- Understand that military family members may have their own set of unique challenges transitioning to the university from the military world. Empathy and understanding can make a world of difference, as can reminding them that the Military-Affiliated Center is a resource for them, too.
- Familiarize yourself with the military culture. Here’s one resource: Military Cultural Competence Course (online, CE credits available or can be taken for free).
Tips for Faculty & Instructors:
- Tips for making your syllabus veteran friendly
- Tips for identifying and addressing adjustment issues in the classroom
- Students serving in the Reserve or National Guard must attend Drill/Battle Assembly one weekend a month, and annual training for two weeks during the year at a minimum. Trainings could fall anytime during the year. This could affect the student’s ability to complete an assignment or study for an exam. Consider providing some flexibility with assignments, tests, or attendance policies, based on a particular situation.