Highlight on Veteran-Friendly Campuses in Alberta: Supporting Veteran Military to Civilian Transition
Upon release from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), many military members pursue post-secondary training. In an effort to support military to civilian transition, the Government of Canada announced a Veterans Education and Training Benefit for Canadian Armed Forces veterans that will go toward the cost of college, university or technical education. This benefit aims to enhance transferable skills and position veterans to be competitive in the civilian workforce. This first exploratory phase of a five-year evidence-based practice implementation research project will build upon efforts to support veterans in their academic pursuits and co-create a strategy for fostering Veteran Friendly Campuses (VFC) and cultures across post-secondary institutions in Alberta (polytechnics, colleges and universities). The overall aim is to enable:
- veterans to successfully navigate into and through post secondary institutions, and
- post-secondary institutions in Alberta to implement and facilitate VFCs.
This project, guided by the National Implementation Research Network’s four-stage implementation model, employs an exploratory mixed-methods, multiple case study design. The project will lay the foundation for collaboration across key stakeholders and the co-creation of a vision, principles and strategies for establishing VFCs across post-secondary institutions in Alberta.
Based on preliminary interviews and environmental scan and literature review findings, it is anticipated that post-secondary institutions will need to initiate ways to identify veterans upon admission, make recruitment and career counsellors available, enhance mental health services for veterans, offer residential and financial supports, establish a veteran support hub and train faculty and students in VFC culture. Further, veterans will benefit from flexible admission options, access to an education and training inventory, and support from a veteran-on-campus liaison, student navigator and transition modules. Findings will inform post-secondary institutions of tangible steps needed to serve the educational needs of veteran students.
HiMARC is proud to be engaging with Campus Alberta and other universities, such as the University of British Columbia, on this exciting and necessary initiative to help Canada’s veterans in their transition from military life and into new educational and vocational pursuits.