The Center for Adult Learners and Veterans held its annual veterans celebrations activities from Nov. 9 through Nov. 13. This year’s celebrations were held entirely virtually. The celebrations were put together by Danny Gourley Fischer, Director of Center of Adult Learners and Veterans, in collaboration with various UWG departments such as Career Services, Auxiliary Services and University Communications and Marketing.
One goal of the Center of Adult Learners and Veterans during this event was to celebrate the student veterans in a way that would not be a burden to them. Fischer said that the center highly respects veterans, but it wanted to avoid celebrating them in a hero-worshipping way. Something the center did to celebrate the veterans but not cast them in the hero light was naming the event that featured veteran students the “Veteran’s Spotlight” and not “The Wall of Heroes” as someone had suggested.
“When veterans are set up as perfect heroes, it creates this impossible vision to live up to and can prevent them from feeling like they are allowed to care for themselves,” said Fischer. “We wanted to be really careful about not doing that.”
Another goal of the center for its celebration activities was to host events that would be useful to student veterans. Feedback from student veterans showed they wanted events that would help them with the transition from actively serving to attending college. Because of the feedback, events for the center have been changing over the years to better focus on the needs of student veterans.
“We’ve been working gradually to solicit feedback and try to make the celebrations something that the students feel like is valuable to them,” said Fischer. “So far the two things that students have consistently said that they want help with is financial aid and finding a job.”
The center received many student comments about veterans stating that they would like help finding a job, and the celebrations this year consisted of an event to help them with just that. “Linking In: A Guide to Selling Military Skills to Employers” was one of the events held on Veterans Day where Career Services explained how veterans can create a LinkedIn profile to market their jobs skills.
“If someone’s job as a service member was moving around explosives all day, there are not a lot of jobs in the civilian sector that involve that, but there are skills that are transferable,” said Fischer.
Another event held during the celebrations to give practical advice to veteran students was the “VA Home Loans: Presentation from Atlanta Regional Office.” A loan officer from the Atlanta Regional office went through the process of getting a VA home loan and explained why they are a good loan choice for veterans. Fischer said events like the home loan event allow the center to help veterans in a more long-lasting way than a one-time celebration would.
“We know that there is a lot going on for veterans every year during Veterans Day,” said Fischer. “Holding the weeklong celebrations with lasting events is a way that we can expand the appreciation and make It more visible.”