Veterans in Society 2013: Changing the Discourse

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“Veterans in Society: Changing the Discourse” took place from April 14-15, 2013 at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center. The goal of the conference was to call attention to the emerging research and growing need for interdisciplinary efforts relating to all aspects of veterans’ experience, from access to higher education, healthcare, and employment; the efficacy of psychological and medical services; veterans' identity, diversity and inclusion; higher education; to veterans' engagement with civil society.

In the years since 9/11, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of veterans, particularly those with combat experience. With Operation Iraqi Freedom and the war in Afghanistan drawing to a close, our troops returning home and finding their places in society. As a result, the topic of veterans’ reintegration into society has become both a key priority and a challenge for federal and state governments and educational institutions of all types. Scholars and researchers conducting research related to veterans’ reintegration into society were the intended audience for VSC2013. This audience includes university professors, doctoral students, and researchers affiliated with institutions of higher learning. Research tracks are:

  • Depicting veterans through films, memorials, and public discourse
  • Listening to and studying language about women veterans
  • Healing the wounds of war: motive, motivations, and interventions to assist veterans
  • Teaching and learning: pedagogical strategies and programs for veterans
  • Integrating veterans: an investigation of veteran-specific needs and policies
  • Connecting spheres: veteran engagement with their communities

To date, no other university has convened an academic conference solely focused on veteran related research. The VSC2013 planning committee envisioned this conference as an annual event and the first step towards making Virginia Tech the leader in the emerging field of Veterans Studies.

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  • Veterans in Society: Changing the Discourse - Conference Overview
    Pencek, Bruce (Virginia Tech, 2013)
    The attached document describes the activities, presentations, and speeches that took place during the "Veterans in Society: Changing the Discourse" conference, which was held from April 14-15, 2013 at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Center. This document provides (1) an overview of the conference, (2) the conference's schedule, (3) a description of the conference's themes and presentations, (4) a biography of the conference's keynote speaker, Dr. Mike Haynie, (5) a biography of the conference's luncheon speaker, Virginia State Senator John Edwards, and (6) registration and travel information for conference attendees.
  • Defense to Degree: Accelerating Engineering Degree Completion for Military Veterans
    Soldan, David L.; Gruenbacher, Don; Schulz, Noel; Hageman, William B.; Vogt, Blythe; Natarajan, Rekha (Virginia Tech, 2013-04-15)
    This paper will focus on the accelerated track for military veterans into bachelor's degrees in engineering. It is important to have contact with the military veteran prior to their arriving on campus to begin their schooling. Current policies give little credit for military experience or training. The development of on-line pre and post assessments and subject based tutorials are being used to accelerate the veteran's entry into the electrical engineering circuit theory sequence and the traditional mathematics sequence. Veterans may have a base of technical knowledge acquired through the technical nature of their service posts. Assigning them to introductory level courses with traditional freshman and sophomore students does not respect their technical expertise nor challenge their capabilities and accustomed pace.
  • Examining the Motives for Veterans Writing Workshops: Is It Clinical, Political, Instructional, or All the Above?
    Morris, Paul J. "Skip" (Virginia Tech, 2013-04-15)
    This paper surveys some of the issues involved with forming a veterans writing group. There appear to be three reasons for starting a veterans writing group: therapy, politics, or instruction, and these intentions often merge. Through interviews with administers and facilitators of veterans writing groups, I examine these motives in an attempt to show college English teachers the challenges they could face when they move beyond the instructional into the clinical or political.
  • Military Experience and the Arts: Bridging the Gap Between Military and Civilian Cultures Through Creative Expression Scholarship
    Martin, Travis L. (Virginia Tech, 2013-04-15)
    This paper considers the arts as a means of engaging veterans' military experiences, to help in reframing trauma and helping veterans use their pasts to move into positive futures. The author provides motivations and background on the material and explains the role of the arts in expressing and rendering military experience, before moving into the theory and practice of the arts-especially writing-as a path to healing and acceptance.
  • Writing War: Veterans in the College Writing Classroom
    Hart, D. Alexis; Thompson, Roger (Virginia Tech, 2013-04-15)
    As writing classrooms may be the primary locations where students' military experiences are shared, writing instructors bear special ethical responsibility when teaching veterans. A discussion of research conducted with the support of a Conference on College Composition and Communications (CCCC) Research Initiative Grant, investigating the demographics of Post-9/11 military veterans who are entering college writing courses.
  • Veterans and Broadband Access in Virginia: Implications for Healthcare Planning and Policy
    Dunkenberger, Mary Beth; Lo, Suzanne; White, Nancy (Virginia Tech, 2013-04-15)
    The paper summarizes results and ongoing research into the implication of broadband access and utilization as a means to improve veterans' health care services and coordination. The study examines (a) broadband access, capacity and utilization as it relates to health care providers ability to serve veterans, (b) broadband access, capacity and utilization as it relates to the veteran ability to access and utilize health care services and (c) broadband utilization as it relates to health and behavioral outcomes. The paper also aims to better understand program and policy context that enables or limits utilization of broadband to meet veteran health needs. The project provides critical linkages to how broadband may be utilized as a foundation in veterans' health care. Moreover, the research identifies needs required to promote program and policy action necessary to leverage and maximize broadband resources to support Virginia veterans' well being.
  • A Sample of Best Practices to Support Veterans in Attending and Completing Engineering Degree Programs
    Kasarda, Mary; McCrery, Ennis McNeer; DePauw, Karen P.; Byrd, Carson; Mikel-Stites, Max; Ray, Victor; Pierson, Mark; Brown, Eugene F.; Hall, Simin; Soldan, David L.; Gruenbacher, Don; Schulz, Noel; Vogt, Blythe; Hageman, William B.; Natarajan, Rekha; Olson, Rick; Kramer, Kathleen; Lord, Susan (Veterans in Society: Changing the Discourse, 2013-04-15)
    This paper describes some sample best practices identified by three institutions, Virginia Tech, Kansas State University, and the University of San Diego to support the recruitment, transition, and retention of veterans in engineering degree programs. These three institutions represent a subset of the initial cadre of institutions receiving planning grants from the National Science Foundation to facilitate and support veterans in their pursuit of undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees, particularly when utilizing their "GI Bill" benefits. Best practices presented here include a website to co-locate veterans' campus resources virtually, a slide show "video" to highlight the mechanics of graduate school and finding the right program, models to help institutions give military veterans academic credit for military training, results of a regional institutional networking workshop on veterans issues, and strategies to better attract and recruit veterans to engineering degree programs.
  • Stolen Valor: Supporting and Defending Another's Right to Lie
    Slater-Chandler, Neysa M. (Virginia Tech, 2013-04-15)
    The United States Supreme Court's recent decision (plurality) in U.S. v. Alvarez (567 U.S. __, 132 S.Ct. 2537) has met with derision in some circles and support in others. The Court stated, "content-based restrictions on speech have been permitted only for a few historic categories of speech" and emphasized, "absent from these few categories is any general exception for false statements." Before the ink was dry (or the bits settled), and even in anticipation of the decision, veterans groups, elected representatives, and other public and private figures were already acting. This paper will review the Supreme Court's decision, the public discourse underway before, during, and after the decision, and proposals that will affect both veterans and non-veterans with an eye towards providing keys to encourage discourse on this emotional subject while "making democracy work in a constitutional republic."
  • Moving Words / Words that Move: An Analysis of Discursive Practices Plaguing U.S. Servicewomen
    Grohowski, Mariana (Virginia Tech, 2013-04-15)
    Through a rhetorical analysis of three terms commonly used in military culture to describe servicewomen, this paper aims to inform instructors of the influence repeated exposure to visual/verbal practices (Fleckenstein; Sheridan-Rabideau) can have on female student veterans. The three terms focused on in this paper are: 1) "trou" used to refer to West Point female cadets' body shape; 2) the phrase "Queen for a Year," which is the "default status" all women are ascribed in the Armed Forces; and 3) the military cadence or "Jody call," which couples the call and response of sexually‑degrading messages with marching in formation. After establishing the exigency for increased attention to the effects of (military) cultured language practices have on female student veterans; a rhetorical analysis of the three terms commonly used in military culture to describe servicewomen follows; before closing with pedagogical implications for cultivating a pedagogy of inclusion for female student veterans, through a critical engagement with language.