ASU debuts new certificate program aimed toward the veteran experience

The 18-credit 'Veteran, Service and Society' program will help create understanding between veterans and citizens

ASU and the Office for Veteran and Military Academic Engagement have set out to implement a program that will help bridge the gap between veterans and citizens. 

“Veteran, Society and Service,” an 18-credit program, is still pending approval by the Arizona Board of Regents. The certificate program would be provided by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences beginning in Fall 2018.

One of the courses, Veterans, Society and Service: America's Experience of Modern War, is currently open for enrollment to all students. 

Mark von Hagen, the founding director of the Office for Veteran and Military Academic Engagement, said he knew years ago while teaching that something was needed to help educate students on the military and veteran experience.

“We decided what was needed was a certificate program to help students understand better what the veteran experience is like after they leave, but also how the experience of combat helped shaped their experiences after they came home,” von Hagen said.

Von Hagen said these courses are designed for veterans to discuss those experiences with non-veterans.

“These people come back to a society that does not really understand what they went through, and this is an attempt to get over that gap,” he said. “Ideally, we would like each class to have a mixture of veteran students and non-veteran students so that they can learn from each other.”

Steve Sequeira, sophomore studying sports business and media and an Air Force veteran, said that every veteran has different experiences reintegrating into society. He said his biggest personal struggle was getting back into the civilian mindset.

"When I joined I did not plan on leaving – I was going to be in the Air Force as long as I could," he said. "The military is a tight-knit community and it was a culture shock going from that environment to a school setting and dealing with that learning curve."

He said the program is a great way for veterans to talk about those experiences and properly inform others.

"It sounds like they are trying to create an avenue to open that conversation up," Sequeira said. "Hopefully it helps non-veterans understand more than the common misconceptions of veterans and helps people who are struggling and makes that transition easier for them." 

John Luebke, a graduate student studying global affairs and management and a Marine Corps veteran, said that the material proposed for these courses can bring veterans and non-veterans together and cultivate a sense of mutual understanding in the community.

“Veterans have a lot of experience that they can lend to other people and vice versa,” he said. “We need to understand all people and bringing those sets of tools into an academic setting will help increase that understanding.”

Nancy Dallett, assistant director of the Office for Veteran and Military Academic Engagement, said the program will feature two required courses, a research methodology course, an internship and a series of electives. 

“We are still discussing the electives because we are going to offer a wide selection of electives that would be appropriate because we have to attract students from a wide variety of majors,” she said.

Dallett said the media often furthers misconceptions about the full extent of what veterans go through after returning from service.

“A lot of the representation toward veterans is slanted toward the problematic area and those are important, but it should not be the primary thing that comes to mind when you think of veterans,” she said.

Dallett said the program will help educate students so they can use the information in the future for their careers or further research.

“We hope they will take positions in their field and put that knowledge to use,” she said. “We also would like to see some students even take this knowledge and further research related to topics discussed or related to this program.” 

Reach the reporter at or follow @therealsperez on Twitter. 

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