Janine Wert Headshot

Dr. Janine Wert

Veterans KC Chair-Elect

Director, Veterans Services
University of Massachusetts, Lowell

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Joint Candidate Statement

As practitioners who work daily in the student veteran space, with over 30 years of combined experience working with the military-connected population, we desire the opportunity to lead the NASPA Veterans Knowledge Community (VKC) as co-chairs. Aligned with the mission and guiding principles of NASPA, we believe the VKC should be dedicated to the military-connected student population in higher education, placing students at the center of our work. We are guided by integrity, innovation, inclusion, and inquiry. We view the VKC as an opportunity to engage a diverse array of individuals who serve the military-connected student population in higher education. Therefore, we propose the following tenants guide the Veterans Knowledge Community. 

Expanding Outreach 

Military-connected students and the institutions that serve them are diverse. The Veterans Knowledge Community must engage with all student affairs and higher education professionals who work with the military-connected population. The VKC should comprise more representation from historically underserved institutions, especially Historically Black Colleges and Universities, two-year institutions, and community colleges. We plan to outreach to these specific institutions to garner their interest in joining NASPA and participating in the VKC to increase the voices of the higher education professionals who serve the military-connected population. 

Continuous Engagement and Professional Development 

As an organization that connects higher education professionals, the VKC should offer ongoing programming and professional development opportunities for its membership. Quarterly development opportunities will keep student affairs administrators engaged and apprised of best practices, policies affected the military-connected population, and research on this unique student group. In addition to the annual symposium, we propose more frequent interactions with our colleagues for professional development opportunities and increased engagement with other KCs and regional conferences. 

Holistic Approach to Serving Military-Connected Students 

With a diverse student population possessing unique needs, the support for military-connected students should be inclusive and holistic. We believe in approaching student success in a manner that supports military-connected students from the time they enter higher education through graduation and beyond, encompassing vital transitions. We also believe in providing resources and programming that address the holistic needs of the students. Evidence-based, student-centered practice should inform student support efforts and empower military-connected students' increased Quality of Life. 

Institutional Mentoring 

Veteran support programs are diverse, with some in existence for many years and some in the fledgling development stages. To support new veteran programs at institutions, we propose an institutional mentoring program that would partner newcomers to the field of veteran support in student affairs with those who are more experienced and have been in place for many years. 

As NASPA has members at over 2,100 colleges and universities, we have many institutions that support military-connected students. With this network, it is possible to foster institutional mentoring that results in student veterans and military-connected students' success. 

Conclusion 

The NASPA Veteran Knowledge Community provides higher education professionals with opportunities to further develop research and scholarship and advocate for student success. As professionals in the field with three decades of service dedicated to working directly with military-connected students to increase student success on state, regional, and national levels, we share the mission of the NASPA. We will work toward expanding the VKC's impact on each of these levels to benefit both institutions and students.