There are about 1.3 million active duty members of the military and more than 800,000 reserve forces in the United States. In 2017, there were approximately 18.2 million U.S. military veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More than 9 million veterans are enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration healthcare system, but many veterans are not taking advantage of VA services and have special needs that are unmet. The large number of active members of the U.S. military and veterans has created demand for professionals who are skilled at providing services to these groups. Veterans services professionals are needed to:
- Assist veterans who want to transition from the military to college, but need help accessing GI Bill benefits or navigating the admissions and enrollment process
- Help veterans who are transitioning to civilian jobs (i.e., match the skills and training they received in the military with those required by civilian positions)
- Assist veterans who have mental-health challenges as a result of service in war zones or for other reasons
- Help veterans who have sustained physical injuries access services offered by the Veterans Administration and/or access health care services that are not provided by the VA
The demand for these and other services is prompting many colleges and universities to offer certificate programs in veterans services at the bachelor’s degree, post-bachelor’s, and graduate levels. One example is California State University-Los Angeles’ undergraduate certificate program in veterans services, which is designed for students who are pursuing degrees in rehabilitation services, social sciences, health and human services, as well as current professionals, who are interested in working with the veteran population. Required courses include:
- Introduction to Rehabilitation Services
- Introduction to Individual and Group Counseling
- Boots to Books
- Introduction to Mental Health for Counselors
- Trauma & Crisis Counseling
- Disability and Function
- Career Assessment and Development
- Job Development and Placement
The College of DuPage (Glen Ellyn, IL) also offers an undergraduate-level veterans counseling certificate that is useful for those who are pursuing degrees in counseling, social work, psychology, and related fields. Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) and Empire State College (Saratoga Springs, NY) offer graduate certificates in veterans services.
Another interesting veterans-related certificate is available at Arizona State University (ASU) (Tempe). The Veterans Society and Service undergraduate certificate is dedicated to the study of veterans, military culture, and how it relates to society. The university program “draws from disciplines of history, politics, psychology, sociology, social justice and the arts, [and] prepares students to address and reduce the military-civilian divide.”
“The United States has been at war for most of our students’ lifetimes, yet fewer than 1 percent of Americans serve in the military,” said Matthew Delmont, a professor of history and director of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at ASU in a press release about the certificate. “Given this, it is crucially important that we support veteran students and that we make veterans studies a central part of the academic experience for many more ASU students.”
Demand should continue to be strong for those who provide educational, counseling, transitional, and other types of services to veterans and those who are transitioning out of the military because there is a shortage of trained professionals.
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Copyright (text) Andrew Morkes
Copyright (photo) U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht