Mental health experts agree that education — of veterans and educators — is key to helping vets succeed on campus. While the sheer number of colleges and universities means change has been slow, positive examples abound in higher education:
* At the University of Iowa, Tamara Woods, the psychology doctoral student who helped start a three-credit, veterans-only course called "Life After War: Post-Deployment Issues," has also begun working with academic advisers to educate them about the effects of combat and post-traumatic stress disorder on student vets.
* In Washington state, psychologist Peter Schmidt has trained faculty and staff at about 80 schools through the state VA office's Veteran-Friendly Campus program. He helps faculty and staff to better understand military culture, and how best to adapt each campus environment to meet the needs of the returning combat veteran.
* The Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran program at Cleveland State University assists veterans transitioning to an academic environment by providing such services as veterans-only classes, academic advising, enrollment assistance and career counseling.
* At Citrus College in Glendora, Calif., a social network connects student vets to each other, and the Boots to Books course teaches interpersonal skills, techniques for dealing with transition issues and stress management.
Of course, a school can still be responsive to the needs of student veterans without a formal program in place. Some things to look for:
* Does the school have an active veterans club/group?
* Are veterans assigned mentors or veterans counselors?
* Is there a separate veterans office — one that deals with more than just processing education benefits paperwork?
* Has the school's faculty and staff been trained to identify symptoms or signs of mental health issues like depression or PTSD?
* Does the school offer any special classes that are veterans-only and/or that specifically address veterans issues?
* Are there any veterans monuments or pro-veteran posters or signs on campus?