The program called the Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) will work to help veterans succeed in college and inform them of the programs and resources made available by the VA.
The program is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. There are coordinated efforts to connect student Veterans to their local VA medical centers, where they can get the care and counseling they need while still in school.
V.I.T.A.L. focuses on four areas: reducing or eliminating any stigmas, the transition from being a servicemember to being a veteran, academic leadership and empowerment. Outreach activities will consist of:
- Training university faculty on military culture
- Coordinating with Student Veterans of America and other student veteran organizations
- Assisting campuses with the creation of support programs
- Providing onsite mental-health counseling
- Case management and enrollment into VA programs
- Educating veterans on benefits available to them.
The pilot program, which will be expanded to 15 locations, currently is in place in five sites: Bedford, Mass., VAMC (North Shore Community College and Middlesex Community College); Tuscaloosa VAMC (University of Alabama and Shelton State Community College); Ann Arbor, Mich., VAMC (Eastern Michigan University, Davenport University, Washtenaw Community College, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Adrian College); Austin VAMC (University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College), and San Francisco VAMC (City College of San Francisco. At City College of San Francisco, 497 veterans have been seen in some sort of outreach capacity - nearly 50 percent of the student veteran population.
"If it weren't for VITAL, there's a good chance those Veterans would still be struggling on their own to get over the past and make it through school." ~~ Remarks by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki - Student Veterans of America 4th Annual National Conference; Las Vegas, NV; December 9, 2011