In recent years, the number of student veterans on college campuses has been growing. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, in 2009, there were approximately 500,000 student veterans receiving education benefits. In 2013, there were over one million. In addition, this number is estimated to increase by 20 percent in the next few years.

These students deal with the everyday stresses of college while also transitioning from military to civilian life. Some have seen combat and are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Many say they feel alone.

A report released by the National Survey of Student Engagement found that first-year noncombat veterans were less engaged with faculty, and first-year combat veterans perceived less campus support than nonveterans.

Many student veterans also have a hard time relating to other students due to their military experiences, and because of differing ages and family commitments.

Characteristics of student veterans:

  • 73 to 80 percent are male; 21 to 27 percent are female
  • Only 15 percent are traditionally-aged college students. Most are between the ages of 24 and 40
  • 47 percent have children and 47.3 percent are married
  • 62 percent are first-generation students

With Veterans Day coming up on Tuesday, Nov. 11, Grand Valley State University athletics and WGVU Engage joined together to host the second annual Heroes Day at the Kelly Family Sports Center on Nov. 8. The event honored veterans and first responders, and several organizations were present to provide information regarding available resources for veterans and their families.

GVSU will also be hosting a Veterans Day Breakfast on Nov. 11, which will include a sculpture dedication. The sculpture, created by Edward Byrd, is in honor of Grand Rapids native Dennis Lobbezoo who was killed in the Vietnam War. The sculpture will be placed in the lobby outside of the Steelcase Library in the DeVos Center.

We at the Lanthorn would also like to express our sincere appreciation to our student veterans and to all of the men and women who serve our country. There are no words that can adequately thank you enough, but we will try to list a few.

Thank you for leaving your friends and family to protect our country. Thank you for dealing with our ignorance about your experiences and hardships. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for the late nights spent on watch. Thank you for the early mornings spent in training. Thank you for putting your lives at risk, for putting others’ safety above your own. Thank you for your commitment to our country. Thank you for the peace of mind your service gives the rest of Americans.

Thank you, truly, for your service and all of the sacrifices you have made.