The Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Student Veterans of America partnered to support student veterans and build relationships with local SVA chapters at institutions of higher learning. It’s a win-win for both groups and for student veterans.
As the VFW SVA Liaison in Connecticut for four years, I see that most student veterans now are not veterans of a foreign war. This is not shocking because it mirrors the current American defense posture. However, it changes the dynamic as traditional veteran service organizations seek to support and recruit from this sub-community of the American veteran population.
While the Global War on Terror campaign wore on, many veterans matriculated thanks to the GI Bill. They joined other active and reserve service members including many using Tuition Assistance (TA). But as these conflicts ended (Iraq 31 December 2011) or drew down (Afghanistan), the corresponding population of combat veterans has diminished. For example, the Iraq surge peaked in October 2007 (166,300) and in Afghanistan (99,800) in September 2010.
So why should the VFW continue the SVA partnership if there are fewer and fewer eligible veterans? Because the VFW should continue to support ALL veterans, especially student and transitioning veterans.
Instead, consider reaching out to the local American Legion and instead offer a unified front of support from the local veteran service organizations. Student veterans largely subscribe to the cranky-bar stereotype of the VFW and Legion and fostering a healthy relationship can greatly impact their perceptions.
Donations of coffee, off-campus meeting space, or a number of support services can greatly enhance the perception of student veterans–who may be seeking community service or charitable opportunities for their club.
As always, take a photo and put it on social media and tag the club.