Green Zone Top Ten Tips
1. Realize veterans are nontraditional students, a special population of financially independent adults often juggling family, work, and studies.
2. Be aware that not all the veterans in your classroom are male. More women are serving, and are almost as likely as their male counterparts to have experienced firsthand traumas of war. One in four veteran students are women. (Newbold & Balmer, 2012)
3. Veterans generally possess discipline, structure, and a strong work ethic. Remember that the military teaches team connection and completion skills.
4. With some awareness and sensitivity on the instructor’s part, veteran life experiences become assets, adding to the diversity of perspectives represented in classrooms. These life experiences can help both veterans and nonveterans gain a broader, more nuanced perspective on the world or class subject. (Kreuter, 2012)
5. A secured classroom can provide veterans with feelings of safety. Veterans may be sensitive to triggers such as surprises, loud noises, and chaos. Be cautious about images of injury, dismemberment and death, and provide advanced warning before displaying such images. (Newbold & Balmer, 2012)
6. Veterans view the instructor as the leader of the classroom and typically respect decisiveness. Treat veterans as adults, as this is what they expect. Instructors should have effective classroom management policies in place. (Newbold & Balmer, 2012)
7. Veterans may be reluctant to talk about their military experiences. Conversely, some may inadvertently dominate class discussions, in which cases boundaries for the nature and quantity of class participation need to be set, preferably in private, without calling the student out in front of the class. Don’t try to relate to experiences that you don’t share – if you haven’t been in combat, don’t pretend that you understand what it or its aftermath is like. (Kreuter, 2012)
8. Keep the syllabus (mission) clear with specific tasks and dates. Be available for assistance and added support or referral. Veterans may not easily admit when they are struggling. (Grasgreen, 2013)
9. Understand that not everything in these Top Ten tips applies to every veteran. They are all unique individuals with unique needs, and we do not want to engage in false assumptions about veterans.
10. One example of how you can help is to use the resources provided on this page to refer veteran student to services on campus. It is helpful to confirm that you are referring correctly by making a phone call before sending the student to the referral source.