UWSP veterans seminar expands in UW system

By Sari Lesk, Stevens Point Journal

STEVENS POINT - A seminar at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point that helps veterans transition out of military life will be available at other campuses in the UW System starting in the fall.

The Back from the Front seminar is open only to first-year students who are veterans or currently enlisted. The course helps the students put the skills they learned in the military to use in the civilian world. Students also study the history of American veterans returning home from war, which helps them process their own experience, according to a news release. The UW system allocated $10,000 to UWSP to help develop the seminar for use at other campuses, which should start in the fall, the release states.

Shauna Holmes, president of the Veterans Club at UWSP, said the course is important for students to help them feel like they have a place at the university when they leave the military.

"Being able to see themselves with other veterans, it helps a lot because that transition is difficult," she said. "That can help prevent thinking 'I shouldn't be here. This isn't my fit.'"

Holmes said she was not able to fit the course in her schedule as a first-year student but encourages incoming veterans to try to include it. She said veterans who start college should look for a support system to help them through their college experience, such as joining the Veterans Club or befriending another veteran on campus.

"That could be everything to keep you in college and help you get a degree," she said.

UW System President Ray Cross thanked Rep. Katrina Shankland, whose district includes UWSP, for helping expand the program.

"The UW System is a national leader in offering exceptional educational services to student veterans, and expanding access to the veterans' seminar to more institutions is a perfect example of our commitment to ensuring our veterans have the best possible experience," he said in the release.

Students in the course write a 2,000- to 4,000-word personal essay in place of a final exam. Some essays from the course were published last year in a book called "See Me for Who I Am: Student Veterans' Stories of War and Coming Home." Proceeds from the book support the Veterans Club at the university.