Veteran Students Get the Support They Deserve with Green Zone Training

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – “Veteran friendly campus” is more than just a title and for Islander faculty and staff, it’s an integral part of a much larger goal – ensuring all students have a place on the Island, no matter their age or background.

This mindset is especially important for Dr. Jeff Dillard, assistant professor of political science, who uses his role as a professor and veteran to build support structures within the University that might otherwise not exist.

“I think student veterans represent an incredibly valuable resource for the campus as a whole,” said Dillard, who is also the faculty advisor for the Student Veteran Organization (SVO). “Because of their age and experience, they have a lot of intangible qualities traditional students do not, and they deserve extra support.”

That support starts with the Green Zone Training, a specialized workshop geared toward helping Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi faculty and staff understand the unique challenges faced by military veterans, as well as how to help them.

“We have veterans in our classrooms, and the transition from military life to school can be rough,” said Kellie Jarvis, professional assistant professor in the Department of Undergraduate Studies, who participated in the most recent Green Zone Training. “My husband is a veteran and I remember he had a difficult time when he transitioned to law school. Now I have veteran students in my classes and I want to learn how to support them.”

Dr. Mark Hartlaub, dean of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), is proud of the effect this training, which was enacted by CLA in 2015, has had on the campus.

“This workshop was so popular that in the first three years most of the faculty and staff had taken it,” said Hartlaub. “Not only that, but those who went through it couldn’t stop talking about how valuable the information was.”

Some, like Krystal Salinas, a psychology major in her senior year, and president of SVO, know how important it is for student veterans to have a network of professors they can go to for support and get the proper resources they need – all of whom mark their doors with a special Green Zone sticker to denote they’ve gone through the training.

“Seeing the sticker on professors’ doors is so vitally important because if a veteran is asking for help, and that person they speak with doesn’t know how to assist them, they aren’t likely to ask for help again,” said Salinas.

Dillard also teaches a specialized seminar class designed to introduce vets to the University resources that are available and to introduce them to SVO so they can create a self-supporting network.

The faculty and staff training, veteran seminar classes, and recently launched veteran orientation, were all created with one purpose: to allow a population of students on campus to come to the Island University and know they’re home.

“There’s a feeling at the University that we want to do all we can for our veteran students,” said Hartlaub. “Our goal is for all students – whether they’re 18 and right out of high school, are in the military, or are adults returning to school – to always feel welcome here at A&M-Corpus Christi.”