By Phil Brown
Transitioning from a military career to a civilian life can be very difficult for veterans, especially those who return from active duty in life-threatening or highly stressful situations.
Readjusting to a completely new set of societal expectations, social surroundings, and faced with the prospect of beginning a new career, trying to make oneself a more attractive job candidate, or simply catch up on years occupied in a career one no longer wishes to continue, embarking on an undergraduate edu-cation as a military veteran is a sizable undertaking.
The University of Nebraska at Omaha has done much over the years to make this as smooth as possible. This year, for the second year in a row, UNO was named the very best four-year university for veteran undergraduates by Military Times. With a dedicated Office of Military and Veteran Services, with dedicated advisors who handle veteran aid and benefits, a full-time VA associate and even a full-service dedicated computer lounge, UNO offers many amenities to veterans in order to adjust to their unique experience.
Now UNO has taken another step to ease the veteran experience. While the school hasn’t charged veteran students a fee for applying to the school since 2013, the immediate family of veterans has had to pay the application fee. With a measure that applies retroactively to Spring 2016, the immediate family members of a veteran will no longer have to pay to apply to UNO. Even applicants who have already paid the fee for Spring 2016 can apply to receive a refund.
This step will make things even easier on the families of veterans, who often face many other unique challenges. Cutting out the application fee is just one small way to take the stress out of college applications for a veteran’s family. A Princeton study conducted in 2013 found that “Military policies and programs have increasingly seen family wellbeing as central to the overall health of the force.”
It seems that making things easier for the family of veterans will make things easier for the veterans themselves, and indeed, the strength of the military force in general.
According to a 2011 Pew Research Center study that analyzed the factors that affect a veteran’s transition to civilian life after years of service, education is an important and influential factor on whether a veteran’s transition is easy or difficult. The study shows that a college education corresponds to a 5 percentage-point increase in the likelihood that a veteran will make an easy transition to civilian life. Those with-out that privilege have to work just that much harder to make their transition.
Since research done since the 1970s and ’80s shows that children of veterans are more likely to volunteer themselves, making it easier for them to apply for and receive an education does nothing but improve the outcomes for everyone involved.