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012: How to help veterans succeed in science, and why it’s important to all of us.

If you believe the newspaper headlines, you’ll be ready to dismiss Jake as another statistic. After all, the odds of a soldier returning from war and getting an undergrad degree are not good, which makes his dream of earning a PhD sound like a pipe-dream. But don’t believe everything you read in the papers.

soldier
The skills that help a soldier survive on the battlefield can be distractions in the classroom.

The Cost of Coming Home

While the men and women fighting overseas will periodically make the evening news, few of us pause to consider what happens to the veterans who return home. After World War II, the GI Bill helped pay for many of those vets to go back to college, training them for civilian jobs and leveraging their unique skills to bolster economic growth. But our societal appetite for war has waxed and waned with each conflict, and with it, our support for the troops returning home.

Instead of handshakes and expressions of gratitude, many vets return to uncomfortable questions and awkward stares.

So what happens when a soldier like Jake leaves the danger, camaraderie, and daily structure of an active war zone and sits down in English 101 with a group of teenagers scrolling Facebook on their laptops? Short answer: he doesn’t fit.

Science for Soldiers

Enter John Schupp, a chemistry professor who wanted to change the patterns that lead to high veteran drop-out rates. By applying a scientific approach, Schupp experimented his way to a system that could help veterans not only fit, but excel.

In this week’s episode, we unpack Jake’s questions about how he will get back to school and achieve his goals in biomedical science, and Dr. Schupp will be our guide. He tells us how to make science training accessible to all veterans, but also, why it should matter to every one of us.

Jake wrote:

I am a disabled military vet who was going to school under the GI bill.  However over the course of my time in college I suffered a mental breakdown that lead to my GPA plummeting and my leaving the small liberal arts college I was studying at. This has left me uncertain as to what my future will be but the one thing I know for certain is that I want to finish my undergrad and get my PhD.  Now I’m probably getting ahead of myself.  I have several things that I am concerned preclude that for even being an option for me.

1) I am concerned that I am too old I’m currently 27 years old
2) I am concerned that I may have burned my bridges having dropped out
3) Though I’ve received help from the VA for the issues I was dealing with at the time, I’m concerned that I’ll have a recurrence of those problems.

Any advice for getting back on track would be greatly appreciated.

You say vee-EN-na, I say vie-AY-na

Also in this episode, we sample Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager. This tasty brew from the Blueridge Mountains of Virginia really takes Josh back to his roots.

References

Dr. Schupp shared a treasure-trove of information that you may find valuable. You can reach him at  schuppjd@tiffin.edu

Full interview with Dr. Schupp

A business plan universities can use to develop their own program to support student veterans

A presentation on veteran suicide and income inequality throughout US history

For vets pursuing a PhD, there are a number of exclusive funding sources available:

One thought on “012: How to help veterans succeed in science, and why it’s important to all of us.

  1. Hey Dan and Josh –

    Amazing episode! The interview with Dr. Schupp moved me to tears at times. My mom is a retired VA Hospital physical therapist, so everything that he said made perfect sense. Also, my former next-door neighbor is an ex-marine postdoc. He seems to be one of the most honest, dutiful, and hard-working people I’ve ever met- a huge asset to science.

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