Veteran Students Unite
Twenty-nine year old staff sergeant Blake Schroedter spends his time improving the lives of fellow American veterans. Like his peers, Blake aspires to take the lessons he learned in combat, and apply them in civilian life. In 2005, Schroedter returned from Iraq, enrolled in college, and is currently on track to finish his doctorate in clinical psychology.
When Blake enrolled in college he fell victim to a problem plaguing many service members: the lack of support for veterans on campus. Schroedter fell in the gap between civilian student services, and student services for those that had sacrificed their time for America. After analyzing the multiple problems military personnel have when reintegrating into civilian life (ranging from marital issues, to finding employment opportunities), Blake realized that there needs to be an organization providing additional support and resources to those that have given it all.
Through an internship, Blake has created a network for inactive service members on thirteen college campuses. Under Campus Compact, the nonprofit organization that promotes student public service, Blake has steered this program, providing a way for veterans to identify themselves when they apply for college. These veterans are then placed on an email list to connect with other veterans on campus, and to be provided information on benefits, including scholarships, academic opportunities and possibly tutors.
The most common thread that Campus Compact has discovered: veterans are gearing themselves up for their futures. Many of these men and women return to their communities, and have no idea how they are going to channel the information and experiences that they have gained into their future education and career. DSST (previously known as the DANTES exam) helps veterans assess their knowledge base on specific subjects. Some of these veterans, when they were on active duty, might have already taken DSST exams for credit – the Department of Defense via DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Services) funds DSST examinations for active duty military service members. There are 38 unique DSST exams accepted for college credit at institutions across the country. Campus Compact and other veteran-driven organizations should know about and suggest credit by examination to the thousands of veterans re-entering the higher education market. With the average university charging $750 for a three-credit course, DSST tests provide an $80 alternative so that veterans can spend less time worrying about college life, and more time working towards a degree.