Returning from military service back into so called normal society continues to be a challenge for many veterans. It doesn’t help if they have difficulty getting Veterans Administration Services. In Wyoming, the two VA hospitals have been criticized for the amount of time veterans need to wait to get care. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports that social service providers say they are trying to provide adequate services to a growing population of vets.
Robert Sheetz spent five years in the U.S. Navy, working on a flight deck, fixing fighter jets. When he got out, the Colorado native came to Wyoming—to put his GI Bill benefit toward an anthropology degree.
“I was a 23-year-old freshman coming into the University of Wyoming, coming from an area where I had a huge structure system around me from being in the military,” Sheetz said. “So I had to kind of learn to build that system for myself and figure out how to be a college student after not being in school for five years.”
Higher education institutions from around Wyoming are working together to develop strategies to better serve military veterans on their campuses.
The first-of-its-kind, three-day conference features representatives from colleges and vocational schools statewide. They say veterans returning to civilian life face challenges and have special needs—and entering into a higher education setting adds to that.
Conference organizer Marty Martinez is project coordinator at UW’s Veterans Services Center. He says becoming a veteran-friendly school is easier said than done.
The University of Wyoming has solidified plans to provide financial aid to student veterans affected by the government shutdown.
Spokesman Chad Baldwin says UW has decided to assess each vet’s case individually, and will pay for tuition, university fees and on-campus housing expenses during the shutdown and hope for federal reimbursement later.
Baldwin says that the university is committed to providing this support because of a sense of responsibility towards student veterans.