Title

Essential Practices in Student Veterans Programs: Serving Veterans and Veterans with Disabilities in Higher Education: A Delphi Study

Date of Completion

January 2011

Keywords

Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Special|Education, Higher

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Despite increased numbers of veterans arriving on college campuses, there is little research to help institutions of higher education (IHE) understand the characteristics of effective student veterans programs (SVP). Veterans with and without disabilities enroll as higher education students using the educational benefits of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Over 2,000,000 veterans are eligible for higher education benefits granted by the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Act of 2008—and as many as 1,200,000 of those may be veterans with disabilities (California Traumatic Brain Injury Board Final Report; Radford, 2011; Taber & Hurley, 2007; Tanielian, 2008; Taylor, 2011; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 2011). Using a three-round Modified Delphi Technique (MDT) this study identified essential items of practice for serving veterans with disabilities and veterans without disabilities. Seventeen (n = 17) Expert Panel (EP) members ranked the 93-items for student veterans with disabilities and again for student veterans without disabilities. EP members averaged over 11 total years of experience working with veterans. Additionally, five had military experience and three are veterans with service-related disabilities. Descriptive statistics and the chi-square statistic were used to analyze data for all research questions. Overall, the EP identified 35 total essential practices for working with students with disabilities and students without disabilities of which 26 were shared essential practices. These shared essential practices provide a baseline of essential practices for both 2-year IHEs and 4-year IHEs for working with student veterans with disabilities and student veterans without disabilities. This present study should help SVP programs already in existence, assist new programs, serve as an evaluation tool, assist in training SVP staff, and lastly assist IHE administration to plan for student veterans with and without disabilities to succeed in higher education. ^