This pilot study explores the development and instruction of an undergraduate course, designed to increase understanding on what it is to be a veteran in America. Informed by literature that suggests many of the reintegration challenges faced by veterans (employment, health, education) are exacerbated by this knowledge gap. The study produced a number of positive outcomes such as those that took part in the course felt their eyes had been opened to the challenges veterans faced, and that the course provided them with the cultural knowledge necessary to engage with veterans.
This paper discusses the development and instruction of an undergraduate class focused on increasing understanding of military veterans in American society. Since the institution of the all-volunteer force in 1974, the number of U.S. citizens with military service has been steadily decreasing. This reduction in military experience has led to a lack of understanding between American civilians and veterans. The literature suggests that many reintegration challenges faced by veterans (employment, health, education) are exacerbated by this knowledge gap. The intent of the course was to educate undergraduate students, mostly civilian, on what it is like to be a veteran in America, with the hopes that increasing awareness would aid veterans in their transition. Given that goal, the course also contained a significant service-learning component. Service-learning, when well-executed, has been found to impact learners in ways other forms of teaching may not. Relevant to the outcomes of this course, the pedagogy has been found to improve cultural competence (Einfield and Collins, 2008) and lead to stereotype reduction (Conner, 2010). In addition to improving learning outcomes, service-learning also provides a tangible benefit to the community. In this paper, I will discuss considerations for designing college classes focused on military veterans and service-learning projects that involve veterans.
Hodges, E. (2018). Teaching Veterans Studies: Bridging the Gap Between U.S. Civilians and Veterans through the College Classroom. Journal of Veterans Studies, 3(1), 89–105. DOI: http://doi.org/10.21061/jvs.v3i1.7