Snapshots of the Student-Veteran Experience During COVID-19
An exhibit by Art Reyes and Josh Farrar, Graduate Student-Veterans at St. Mary's University, San Antonio, Texas
This exhibit is an attempt to, in some small way, capture the student-veteran experience during COVID-19. Student-veterans faced unprecedented pressures and struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic. This exhibit ties numerous stories together that elucidate these issues.
Student-veterans have faced all sorts of challenges this year. From grappling with college registration and financial aid processes to Guardsmen and Reservists activating to serve in response to the pandemic, COVID-19 affected student-veterans in unique ways.
This concise, twenty-item exhibit shines a light on the plight of student-veterans during the COVID-19 Pandemic and, along with the numerous other exhibits and items in this archive, provides nuance and perspective on this international event.
Registration and Financial Aid
Student-veterans who registered for classes during the COVID-19 pandemic faced high levels of uncertainty. Some registered while currently serving on orders. Others were trying to understand significant COVID-19 changes to the Veterans Affairs registration process. Money was also an issue. The pandemic had severe economic consequences and future uncertainty led student-veterans to question how they would pay for college. Veterans also pursued new funding opportunities such as vocational rehab benefits. The items showcased here highlight portions of student-veterans' registration and financial aid struggles.
Student-veterans who were still active Guardsmen and Reservists soon faced the reality of being activated to face the fallout of the COVID-19 Pandemic. These student-veterans were activated for a variety of mission-sets such as civil unrest shows of force, COVID-19 nasal and oral testing site creation, and food and water distribution. These student-veterans had to balance their careers, families, and personal education with the demands and needs of their state and country. Many student-veterans were gone for months at a time. The items presented here touch on this overarching story of student-veteran military duties during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Family and Friends
Student-veterans have a support system that helps them through tough times. Being a student is already difficult and time consuming for veterans, but many student-veterans were also called to active service as was detailed in the last section. What happens to the friends and family of a military service member when they are activated? How were the support systems of student-veterans impacted during the pandemic? The items in this section introduce the struggles that family and friends of student-veterans went through throughout the pandemic. Whether it was facing childcare struggles, job issues, or sickness and death itself, friends and families of student-veterans were impacted throughout this time, thereby impacting the student-veterans themselves.
Graduation and Post-Graduation
Graduation is one of the most exciting times in one's education experience. For student-veterans and others, educational program graduations were highly affected and even canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Canceled graduations took away the sense of completion and celebration that these moments deserved, but the response was understandable given the global nature of the pandemic. Even though the response and corresponding effects on graduations was considered justified in the eyes of many, it still was unfortunate. Some student-veterans completed their graduation ceremonies online, even while on activation. Others struggled with job prospects, the job market, and job changes in response to, and because of COVID-19. The items in this section add perspective to this narrative.
Student-veterans faced, and continue to face, unique problems during the COVID-19 pandemic that affect their registration, financial aid, military service, friends and family support network, graduation, and job prospects. For the most part, many have overcome these obstacles through creativity and help from friends, family, and faculty. The items detailed in this exhibit highlight this distinct time in history from the student-veteran perspective.