National Council of Teachers of English

Student Veterans in the College Composition Classroom: Realizing Their Strengths and Assessing Their Needs

Conference on College Composition and Communication, March 2015, references and further reading updated November 2022

In 1999, the NCTE resolved to “[a]ffirm, seek, and encourage all teachers to include a diversity of perspectives, cultures, aesthetic responses, and experiences in the teaching and learning of English language arts.” Yet, as Daniel Byman, Senior Fellow for Foreign Policy at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, observes, “many professors harbor stereotypes about the military, not recognizing the diversity of opinion within military circles on many issues and the remarkable minds of many young [military service members].” In order to reflect the spirit of the NCTE resolution, this document asserts that “learning about the military, war and combat, and service members’ experiences [can actually] complement a campus’s broader commitment to diversity and social understanding” (Rumann 31).

This document first identifies multiple assets student veterans often bring to writing classrooms and then acknowledges some of the special considerations that writing instructors and WPAs should take into account when working with student veterans.  After presenting these generalizations, the document offers classroom instructors and WPAs some more detailed answers to the question, “What do I need to know about working with student veterans?”  A list of references and further reading, organized roughly by field of study—from composition and writing studies to disability studies and student services—is provided at the end of the document.  This organizational structure is meant to present a deliberate move away from deficit-model thinking about military veterans—that veterans are damaged or unprepared or otherwise problematic—to representing military servicemembers as considerable assets and sources of strength, vision, and leadership for our universities, colleges, and our society at large.

Read the full statement [1].