President of the University of Memphis and Co-Founder and Scientific Director of the National Center for Veteran Studies Dr. David Rudd shared his expertise with faculty and staff on September 21 to build understanding and capacity for serving student veterans (the complete talk can be viewed on the YouTube video below).
In his presentation, “Soldier to Student,” Rudd shared the seven core Army values that do not simply vanish when soldiers become veterans. These values are what shape soldiers’ identities and roles in the world, narrowing the margins of identifying personal success and failure. This “warrior mentality” carries forward into their lives, and with it, veterans often sustain a feeling of invincibility and a belonging to a cause bigger than themselves.
Although this mentality remains, transitioning veterans will ask of a new situation, “Do I belong here?” The job of collegiate faculty and staff is helping answer that question. Rudd shared startling statistics revealing disconnectedness is far larger than many may realize. Faulty messaging to the veterans has not helped.
Rudd said the answer in reaching this audience is simply asking them which messaging works. He recommended focus groups to collect these opinions. Studies have found that human interaction is the number one thing that helps people reconnect. When students feel like they belong, they will stay.