Dr. Jaye Goosby Smith speaks about veteran outreach

jaye goosby smithOn Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 in N-201, speaker Dr. Jaye Goosby Smith explored both the issues of veteran transition to college life and methods of inclusion in classrooms. This talk was sponsored by the Black Student Union and the Black Employee Group on campus.

Smith recieved her Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University and is the Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Management at Pepperdine University.

Smith’s current research focuses on military veterans’ issues. “I started studying this because my late husband was a Navy veteran,” she said.

She assessed the situation of higher education, particularly for veterans. Having had close observation of personal struggles of the systems, she shared ideas for improvement and inclusion.

Smith explained that transition to college life, especially after a length of time not being in school is a difficult experience. Especially from a military environment where things are explicit and spelled out. In 2011, there were over 21 million veterans. The homelessness rate of female veterans has increased 140%.

She is passionate about making classrooms inclusive to veterans as they posses qualities enriching to the setting. Many have leadership qualities and may have faced life and death situations where they may have been in charge of leading others.

This creates pragmatic approaches to problem solving and a good sense of teamwork, coming from a background of comradery.

Smith explored common attitudes formed by experiences: a changed perspective on life, increased maturity and a willingness to learn material for knowledge’s sake and not a grade.

She shared difficulties veterans may face due to their situations that include being more aged than the average college student and therefore having a marital life and financial concerns.

The unemployment rate among veterans was 12.1% in 2011. Due to the poor job market veterans are coming back to college.

Smith expresses concern on the amount of money from the GI Bill spent for profit institutions of learning. Statistics show an increase of $230 million in funding just from 2009 to 2010. Smith’s concern is that veterans may be preyed upon for the benefits they receive, that this increase occurred because the Post-9/11 GI Bill is more generous than the previous GI Bill.

The number of veterans using benefits has nearly doubled. It will continue to increase as others come out of overseas.

Smith gave an overview on how to involve veterans for both faculty and students. There are questions and attitudes that create strained atmospheres of unwelcome and affect the entire learning environment.

President of the BC Association of Veterans John Dazey asked on how to involve veterans and give them a sense of belonging to college life.

Smith answered this question with simply having more interaction with them and gradually increasing involvement.

“I thought it was really informative, she really went over things I don’t think about, she definitely went over little things that matter to vets,” says Dazey.

He plans on having solid office hours to encourage this.  “It really comes down to interpersonal communications and a lot of them [veterans] don’t like to do that. It’s really important for them to open up themselves to speak to other people who might be a little different from them,” says Dazey.