Presentation Summaries


Below are summaries from the CBI small group discussions.

[Picture of Donald Parks, Pat Butin, and Michael Harris at a table.]

Presentation—The New G.I. Bill: How Will It Affect Your Campus?

Pat Outing, Des Moines Area Community College

Information regarding the new G.I. Bill has been subject to frequent updates and amendments. The federal government maintains up-to-date information about the bill at http://www.gibill.va.gov/.

The new G.I. Bill is also known as the Post 9/11 Montgomery G.I. Bill or Chapter 33. It is very different than the previous G.I. Bill. Information about the new bill available at the time of the CBI suggests that each veteran on your campus may be entitled to different benefits according to length of service. Given that the benefits will vary for each student veteran, the administration of funds under the new bill may require increased administrative training and oversight. Institutions have until August 1, 2009, to develop a plan for implementation and administration of benefits.

Active duty service men and women will automatically be enrolled in the new bill. Service men and women who were already enrolled under the old bill may have a choice about which benefits to access.

The maximum tuition benefit covered under the new bill may be that of the most expensive public college or university in the state. It may also include a housing allowance that is based on the cost of living in the zip code area in which the school is located. Additionally, as of 2010, veterans' benefits will no longer be considered when determining eligibility for federal financial aid.

Under the new bill, tuition will be paid directly to the institution. One challenge may occur if a student drops a class or reduces his or her course load after tuition has been paid; in this case, the institution would typically refund the tuition dollars directly to the student. If this occurs under the new bill, it would be the responsibility of the student to return the refund to the Veterans Administration. This system could create confusion for students and/or jeopardize their eligibility to continue in school.

Presentation—Opportunities in Computing

Ed Lazowska, Department of Computer Science, UW

Dr. Lazowska shared background information on the field of computing, how it has advanced, and opportunities that exist for students with disabilities, including veterans, in computing and IT careers.

He described how computing advancements have shifted how we live, work, learn, and communicate. Advances in computing have aided the progress of research in other disciplines, powered our economy, and changed how business is conducted.

The impact of IT in a wide variety of fields is continually increasing. Specifically, developments in robotics have enhanced the ability of people with disabilities to function independently. However, there are many IT problems yet to tackle. These outstanding issues will create new opportunities for careers in computing. In Washington State, computing jobs constitute five of the ten fastest growing fields and are the highest paid jobs in these high growth fields. The vast majority of all new jobs in engineering are going to be in computer science and, therefore, students who are trained in computing will be highly marketable.

Computing fields are much broader than people often think. There is more to computing than programming. People who are trained in computer science pursue diverse careers in which they apply their relevant skills. Two out of three computing jobs are not for IT producers like Microsoft or Google, but rather in businesses, banks, and other organizations. Working in the computing industry can be creative, interactive, and empowering.

The importance of diversity in computing fields is beginning to be recognized. Currently, the majority of people in the field are white males who don't always address the variety of cultural interactions with technology. A diverse workforce, including people with disabilities, produces better products because more perspectives are addressed in their development.

Presentation—From Field to Family: Our Perspective

Steve and Lisa Tice, MHN Health Net

Steve and Lisa Tice shared their personal story of the transition they experienced when Steve arrived home from the Vietnam War. Their presentation increased audience awareness of the daily struggles that veterans may face. Many issues that recent veterans face are similar to those faced by veterans of past wars. It may be helpful for the families of recent veterans to hear the stories of other families who have been through similar situations.

The ABC Nightline interview, Star of the Family, illustrates Steve and Lisa's story. Steve served in the Vietnam War and was severely injured. When he returned home, Steve struggled to be a "regular person." He married Lisa, had a child, and went to college but his adjustment was difficult. He and Lisa shared their story of coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), physical injuries, and adjustment issues. They shared issues that many families cope with such as anger, pain, and abuse.

Steve and Lisa noted that some injuries from current conflicts are different than those of previous wars. New medical advances mean that more soldiers are surviving battle injuries that previously would have been fatal. Many soldiers are returning home with brain injuries, spinal injuries, blindness, and amputations.

They also mentioned that understanding unique stressors facing veterans' families is important. Many families are facing multiple deployments and relocations, which uproots them from their community.

Online resources recommended by Steve and Lisa for veterans and their families include

Presentation—Best Practices: Higher Education Consultation and Outreach

Peter Schmidt, Washington Department of Veterans Affairs

Peter Schmidt discussed best practices for serving veterans in postsecondary education. He suggested that the most important thing an institution can do is ensure that faculty are prepared to work with students who arrive in the classroom with a diverse set of experiences.

Some of the ways that campuses can become more veteran-friendly are to

Presentation—Military Cultural Competence

Scott Swaim, Valley Cities Counseling

Scott Swaim noted that an important aspect of serving student veterans effectively is to understand the culture that exists within the military. Many student veterans, especially those recently discharged from the military, are used to living within a very structured environment. An understanding of this culture as well as military traditions can help to ease the student veteran's transition to campus life.

A few important things to remember are that

To learn more about military life and culture, postsecondary staff and faculty can attend civilian orientation days at their local military base. Other resources include the Veterans Administration (VA) and Vets Centers. Find your local VA facility by visiting http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isFlash=1.

Presentation—PTSD On Campus

Scott Swaim, Valley Cities Counseling

There are many things to keep in mind when working with veterans with PTSD, including the following:

Presentation—Lessons Learned: Job Placement and Transition into Civilian Careers

Retired Major General James Collins

Veterans leave military service with a wide range of skills and experience that may be useful to them in civilian careers. However, many struggle to find employment that is suitable to their personalities, skills, and interests.

Several ways of helping veterans gain employment include the following:

Presentation—Universal Design

Sheryl Burgstahler, AccessComputing

Universal design is a design strategy that addresses the diverse abilities and other characteristics of potential users of a product or environment. When applied, products and environments are usable by the broadest range of individuals without special adaptations. Suggestions for applying universal design to technology, instruction, services, and physical spaces were presented. These suggestions included the following:

AccessComputing offers funding for minigrants for events that support AccessComputing objectives, including the application of universal design. Visit http://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/minigrant.html for more information.