Military Veterans

What the Academy Doesn’t Know About the Vet: Exploring the Top Five Oversights

By Corri Zoli, Rosy Maury, Danny Fay, & Nick Armstrong

(Re-published from Thomas Ricks’ Best Defense blog, Foreign Policy, Nov. 23, 2015) Tom recently asked us to address this question: “What the academy doesn’t know about the vet?” The bad news and simple answer is “a lot.” The good news — albeit almost 15 years after the Post-9/11 wars began — is that it’s getting better. We will try to explain why.

“[T]oday we’re in a different national moment and mood — with a minority all-volunteer force whose experiences and perspectives are MIA.”

At the core of the problem is servicemembers’ “missing perspectives” on college campuses and in public discourse. This “finding” might seem odd, given overwhelming public support for the military since the 1980s — outpacing the church (see graph below). In the post-9/11 period, such support is now both pervasive and individualized: ordinary Americans give up seats, buy drinks, and incessantly “thank” veterans for their service.

But scratch the surface and one finds less deep public interest in understanding veterans’ actual experiences in the Post-9/11 wars — what it meant to be fighting them, how they changed the trajectory of a life, families, whole communities, or what these experiences mean for larger national discussions of service and security. As Sebastian Bae has written in these pages, “‘thank you for your service’ represents the banality of society’s understanding of the nation’s wars and the men and women who fought them.” Phil Klay calls this civilian-military distance a failure of imagination — too often vets as stoic warriors “fetishize their trauma as incommunicable,” remaining “forever” separated “from the rest of mankind,” and civilians play along, despite the consequences we all pay when “civilians are excused or excluded from discussion of war.”

Ideally, the academy should be a space for such discussions.  But we academics have too followed suit: we’ve lagged behind our colleagues from the past who used to know a lot about World War II, Korean, Vietnam, even Civil War vets. Aside from health and wellness studies, Gulf War I and Post-9/11 veterans — a cohort facing some of the most complex battlefields, unprecedented multiple deployments, and some of the highest service-related disability rates — have received less attention by social scientists, in education data efforts, or in programing on college campuses (with some emergent key exceptions). Neither the VA, nor the Departments of Education, Defense, and Labor — federal agencies responsible for collecting this data — have fully modernized their collection efforts to be compatible and to show how veterans are doing in military-to-civilian transition (school, careers, their families). Most telling, we do not have an executive-level study of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, like the seminal post-World War II Veterans’ Benefits in the United States: Findings and Recommendations, undertaken by Executive Order (No. 10588) in 1955. We do not even have a formal “after action review” of the Post-9/11 wars and their implications for servicemembers and the all-volunteer service — a normal institutional and policy-level learning process undertaken after war, even Vietnam. A lack of in-depth and data-driven inquiry on servicemembers has thus become common — despite robust traditions of interdisciplinary social science research on veterans from previous wars.

Yet, veterans pour onto campuses: the new Post-9/11 GI Bill has helped increase servicemembers in school — nearly 800,000 students took advantage of the benefit in 2014. The Bill itself was designed to replicate the rich benefits and success of the original GI Bill of 1944, that policy mechanism, to use social science terms, that helped create the famously “civic” greatest generation, the American middle class, U.S. global economic advantage, and the democratized university. Syracuse University, where we work, embraced the academically-untested World War II veteran. Chancellor Tolley opened the school’s doors wide — more than doubling the population — intuitively “getting” what student-veterans could mean for the school, New York, and the nation. Historical research, as mentioned, later backed him up.

But today we’re in a different national moment and mood — with a minority all-volunteer force whose experiences and perspectives are MIA. Without their input, stubborn myths — some new, some holdovers from past wars — persist (i.e., veterans are undereducated, maladjusted, a homogenous group, etc.). Despite the nuanced picture emerging from veterans-authored writing, the idea of veterans as “broken heroes” persists. Too little academic research has challenged such myths with facts, matched media narratives with data-driven analyses, or asked universities to explore what veterans offer to college campuses. Part of the ‘good news’ is that campuses, including our own are working hard to change that.

Here are five “take-aways” from our research for the academy:

  1. Post-9/11 veterans (from our nonrandom sample of 8,400 servicemembers) feel their decision to join the armed services was a good one (70 percent), their military experiences were mostly positive (58 percent), and they learned valuable, durable skills in service useful for university and life — despite personal costs and war outcomes. There is, furthermore, a correlation between positive military experience and the pursuit of higher education — that means somehow service is encouraging, selecting, or preparing veterans to go to school. One respondent summed this up by saying: “higher education is on the frontline of a successful transition process” …

To read the complete blog, click here.

Corri Zoli is INSCT Director of Research/Research Assistant Professor; Rosy Maury is Director of Applied Research and Analytics, SU Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF); Daniel Fay is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Mississippi State University; and Nick Armstrong is IVMF Senior Director of Research and Policy.

Missing Perspectives: Servicemembers’ Transition from Service to Civilian Life

In 2013, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF), with help from ISPL, launched an ambitious research program, supported by a Google Global Impact Award, aimed to cultivate a deeper understanding of the social, economic, and wellness concerns of the newest generation of US veterans.

Missing_Perspectives_Report_CoverThe research program’s principal objective is to highlight the breadth and diversity of our transitioning servicemembers and veterans, in the context of their first-hand, lived experiences across multiple role identities including warfighter, family member, student, and community leader, among others.

To this end, the IVMF research team developed a comprehensive multi-phased research effort to capture these experiences and identities, with a keen interest on transitioning servicemembers and veterans considering or pursuing higher education.

The first phase of this effort commenced with a robust survey, carefully designed and distributed through multiple partners in government, higher education, private sector, and the media. This effort resulted in what is arguably one of the most sweeping datasets to date representing the lived experiences of our latest generation of veterans and military families.

Specifically, more than 8,500 veterans, active duty servicemembers, members of the National Guard and Reserves, and military-connected dependents gave their time to take to share their motivations to serve, and subsequently return to civilian life; their post-service academic plans, aspirations, and barriers; their academic experiences and perceptions; and their broader, yet related transition experiences. These insights are both rich and remarkable.

The project’s initial report—Missing Perspectives—serves as the inaugural publication in what will be a continuing series of IVMF research papers and commentary over the next year, highlighting issues and opportunities related to veterans’ transition broadly, and higher education specifically.



Additional Products



You can still participate in the Service to Student and Serving Student Veterans surveys:

Survey 1: Service member to Student Survey: Veterans’ Perceptions of Transition, Higher Education, and Success (launched May 2014) has received more than 8,500 responses thus far—making it one of the largest and most comprehensive datasets on veterans’ experiences in higher education. This survey was designed and disseminated to gather information on service members and their families’ educational experiences, challenges, and pathways to post-service success, including STEM education. All military service members (active duty, reserves, guard, veterans) and their families are eligible to participate. To take the survey, click here

Survey 2: Serving Student Veterans: Programs, Policies & Practices for Servicemembers’ Success on Campus, (launched September 2014) is designed to understand veteran administrators’ perspectives on student veterans’ academic success on their campuses.  This survey gathers information from institutions of higher education about the methods and processes; challenges and successes in serving military service members throughout the entire education life cycle. These included the cycles of recruitment, enrollment, and inclusion in campus life, and veteran – specific programs and services, career services, professional development, alumni relations, and STEM-focused curricula and career opportunities. All higher education institutions are eligible to participate. To complete the survey, you may either use the fillable PDF form (click here to download PDF) or complete this form and an online survey link will be emailed to you.

Contact Contact
Corri Zoli, Director of Research
300 Dineen Hall | 950 Irving Avenue
SU College of Law, Syracuse NY 13244 | 315.443.4523

INSCT, IVMF Collaborate on “Missing Perspectives” Report on Servicemembers’ Post-Service Transition

IVMF Releases Missing Perspectives Report, Revealing Servicemembers’ Views on Post-Service Transition and Aspirations Related to Education and Employment

(Re-published from, Nov. 18, 2015) The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF), with support from Google, has released a report that highlights preliminary findings from an ongoing, multi-phased study on servicemembers’ post-service transition, with a special emphasis on education. Co-authored by Dr. Corri Zoli, Rosalinda Maury, and Dr. Daniel Fay, the report is IVMF’s first in a new series of research and thought leadership publications aimed at informing ongoing policy and programmatic discourse related to the social, economic, and wellness concerns of post-9/11 veterans.

“At the core of this research lies a commitment to deepen understanding of today’s veterans by highlighting the breadth and diversity of their experiences and identities.”

Specifically, this initial publication incorporates an emphasis on the social and cultural barriers impacting the transition experience, in a way that is narrated by the voices of veterans themselves—a first-hand accounting of their own perspectives related to the in- and post-service experience, their strengths, skills, shortcomings, their educational and employment aspirations, and their enduring contributions to public service. More than 8,500 service members (active duty, National Guard and Reserves, veterans, and some families) participated in this study.

IVMF Executive Director, Vice Chancellor of Veteran and Military Affairs at Syracuse University, and U.S. Air Force veteran Dr. Mike Haynie, notes that “this effort has resulted in what is arguably one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching datasets available to date that captures the ‘lived experiences’ of the post-9/11 generation of veterans and families. This matters because it should be those lived experiences—the voices of veterans themselves—that inform the choices we make with regard to how best to support their success after they take off the uniform.”

“At the core of this research lies a commitment to deepen understanding of today’s veterans by highlighting the breadth and diversity of their experiences and identities—as warfighters, family members, students, community leaders, and other roles—as well as their post-service challenges and aspirations,” said co-author Dr. Corri Zoli, Director of Research at Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, an IVMF partner institute. “We found that recent servicemembers cite an overwhelmingly positive experience of military service and, further, that service both motivates and promotes an interest in education and in developing post-service professional skills.”

Missing_Perspectives_Report_CoverThe authors also note a significant gap in academic and federal research that provides an evidence-based picture of post-9/11 servicemembers compared to studies following previous wars (World War II, Korea, and Vietnam). As the title lead Missing Perspectives suggests, servicemembers perspectives on military service and post-service life are largely absent from national policy discussions of service, education, security, and transition.

“This survey further reinforces how military service instills self-confidence and a lifelong desire for learning and self-improvement,” shared Dr. Nick Armstrong, IVMF’s Senior Director of Research and Policy and U.S. Army veteran. “But more importantly, in light of these ‘missing perspectives’ and given a massive taxpayer investment in the Post-9/11 GI Bill, we should be asking what higher education is doing to avoid a potential missed opportunity to fully leverage the talent, training, expertise, dedication, and discipline of today’s veterans.”

The report reveals recent Gulf War and post-9/11 servicemembers’ in- and post-service experiences, their perceived strengths and skills, educational and employment aspirations, and enduring contributions to public service.

Top Findings

The IVMF research team at Syracuse University surveyed more than 8,500 participants (active duty, National Guard and Reserves, and their dependents) to build one of the few comprehensive datasets on  recent servicemembers’ experiences.

  • Top reasons for joining included: education benefits (53%); a desire to serve your country (52%); and new experiences, adventures and/or travel (49%), while 88% reported that joining the military was a good decision.
  • Top skills strengthened by the military: work ethic/discipline (87%), teamwork (86%), leadership (82%), mental toughness (81%), and adaptation (78%).
  • A majority reported that the military promoted their interest in education and prepared them for education.
  • 92 percent either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that education should play a role in their post-service transition.
  • One of the top motivations for pursing education includes career, self-improvement, and personal growth, professional advancement and to use benefits. Some interesting choices were also to “help people/society” and increase their “technical skills.”
  • Top problems or barriers that hindered pursuit of education goals: lack of financial resources/financial burden (56%); personal/family obligations (28%); GI Bill benefits expires before degree completion (25%); health/disability issues (23%); and conflict between job and school (22%).
  • Top five problems while pursuing their education: age differences with other students (37%); lack of financial resources (32%); working full time jobs (32%); family responsibilities (29%); and few veteran resources on campus (26%).
  • Most (84%) felt there was a place for veterans’ leadership, achievement, and/or excellence on campuses; however, a majority (53%) also felt that colleges/universities do not recognize the specific strengths and skills that veterans bring to higher education.
  • The majority of servicemembers said they are likely to pursue a different career than their military occupational specialty (55%) or actual job performed in the military (47%).
  • An overwhelming majority (79 %) said the military played a role in their success.

To learn more about this research, click here.

To read a story about the report at Military Times, click here.

INSCT, IVMF Present Preliminary Results of Veterans’ Transition Research to National Audience

View the presentation

Researchers from Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT) and Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) recently presented data and preliminary findings from a groundbreaking, comprehensive survey of military veterans’ service and post-service experiences, expectations, and needs, particularly as they relate to higher education, campus life, and degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and other fields.

“A Data-Driven Approach to Veterans’ Transition: Education, Employment, and Post-Service Success”—presented by INSCT Director of Research Corri Zoli and Rosalinda Maury, IVMF Director of Applied Research and Analytics—was a prominent address at the 40th annual conference of National Association of Veterans Program Administrators (NAVPA), held from October 5 to 9, 2015 in Nashville, TN. Given the demand by attendees to hear about the team’s research, NAVPA leadership asked the team to present their findings in three consecutive addresses, each of which garnered large audiences.

“The question is, how can we get academic institutions to best support veterans, and how can we benefit from what national service has to offer the nation?”
Specifically designed to understand the educational experiences and challenges of post-Sept. 11, 2001 veterans, at the heart of this research lies a paradox: Zoli and Maury (along with research colleague Daniel Fay, Assistant Professor of Public Management, Mississippi State University) describe broad and continuing public “support for troops” but, beyond that sentiment, little understanding of a servicemember’s life beyond the military.

“This paradox has lead to a gap in understanding veterans’ experiences and needs as they transition, for example, from the military to post-secondary education,” explains Zoli. “It also uncovers a clear need to identify institutional support systems and practices that best promote long-term student veteran success. The question is, how can we get academic institutions to best support veterans, and how can we benefit from what national service has to offer the nation?”

Beyond these initial questions, Zoli, Maury, and Fay ask, Does national service influence post-service transition, education, and careers? Does STEM military training increase STEM aspirations? What challenges do servicemembers face in postsecondary settings? What strengths do veterans bring to campus? and What institutional best practices increase post-service transition and academic success?

With support from IVMF, a Google Impact Award, and the National Science Foundation, the research builds entirely new national datasets (surveying more than 9,000 respondents combined) that prioritize servicemembers’ perspectives. This research also reviews and identifies the limits of national datasets on veterans housed at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics,, National Center for Education Statistics, and the US Department of Defense. By developing its own national datasets, the team has augmented these existing federal data with original multi-method research, including structured and open surveys, interviews, and campus visits.

The research is divided into two studies. Study One focuses on servicemembers’ post-service life, experiences, and challenges within post-secondary education, while Study Two garners academic leaders’ perspectives from 451 institutions, asking schools how they manage programs and services for their military students.

Among the research innovations embedded in their study of veterans’ post-service transitions, the research team has targeted a population that has never before been broadly surveyed about its educational experience, and it has created one of the largest datasets on veterans’ experiences in education and a comprehensive, up-to-date database of veteran-focused educational programs.

Much of the data is still being analyzed, explains Zoli, but already certain conclusions can be drawn from the Study One “Service-to-Student Survey.” “It is evident that the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides up to 36 months of education benefits for veterans, is the most common motivation for individuals to join the military, along with a desire to serve one’s country,” Zoli notes. “And we find that the Bill has continuing public benefits beyond motivating military service.”

For instance, it appears that an increasingly technical military is leading to servicemembers being more likely to pursue STEM education and careers than the civilian population, and, in particular, female veterans are more likely to pursue STEM degrees post-service. Furthermore, Zoli observes, a veteran is more likely to select a public sector job post-service, while those with service-connected injuries report being more likely to pursue education “to help society.” However, servicemembers report a number of challenges to pursuing post-secondary education, including difficulty bridging the gap between their experiences and a “traditional” students’ understanding of military life, difficulty in navigating bureaucracy, and the expense of college.

“This work will help us inform the veterans’ community, academia, and others about how to best support veterans working toward educational success,” says Zoli. “Ultimately, we hope that our data will help us identify pathways for success and share institutional best practices with colleges and training programs.”


Law Clinic Appeals Veterans’ Discharges, Denied Benefits

(Re-published from the Associated Press, Oct. 1, 2015) The new legal aid clinic for military veterans at Syracuse University College of Law has taken on dozens of appeals of denied benefits and less than honorable discharges.

The free clinic began handling cases this year, established by two graduates, both now in the military, to meet the large unmet need they saw.

“I just think that sometimes we forget that bureaucracy has a real human cost.”
It has 64 current cases and another 84 awaiting records from the Veterans Administration and service branches, director Yelena Duterte said.

Most clients are from Upstate New York, though it’s open to any veteran, Duterte said. “Because of the need, I’ve opened up the geography,” she said.

There are 35 other clinics at law schools around the US that focus on veterans, ranging from Yale in Connecticut to Baylor in Texas and including the State University of New York at Buffalo.

In Syracuse, the new clinic has also referred many veterans to the law school’s clinics that handle family, criminal and other legal issues.

“They helped me get the honorable (discharge) back for Joey,” said Cathy Schillaci of Rome. Her son left the Army in 2013 addicted to opiates after three years, five months and 14 days of service, and kept the problem hidden at first, she said.

He had been given 14 painkiller prescriptions over two years in the military for a hernia, sprained ankle and back issues, she said.

Now the 28-year-old will be able to get veterans’ benefits when he leaves state prison. He began a six-year sentence last year, convicted of stealing to support his addiction.

“He’s going to need all the help he can get to return to normal life,” Cathy Schillaci said. “There are so many of our soldiers that came home addicted. … They deserve to get into rehab.”Joseph Schillaci’s appeal of his discharge was handled by Syracuse law student and INSCT Research Assistant Charles DiNunzio who reviewed thousands of his documents, requesting from the Department of Veterans Affairs a so-called character of service determination. The appeal emphasized his good service and mitigating factors that led to a failed drug test and administrative discharge.

“I just think that sometimes we forget that bureaucracy has a real human cost,” DiNunzio said. It’s also difficult for veterans to navigate the system alone, he said. He has since graduated and is in the process of joining the Navy.

Funded with a state and county grants and private donations, the Veterans Legal Clinic currently has 10 law students assigned four cases each, up from eight students its first semester.

The clinic was founded by 2014 law school graduates Tom Caruso (LAW/MPA ’14) and Josh Keefe (LAW/MPA ’14), who have since returned to active duty as judge advocates for the US Navy and Marine Corps …

To read the whole story, click here.

Coughlin Named a Rumsfeld Foundation Graduate Fellow

Kara Coughlin, an SU Maxwell School MPA/MA student and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Security Studies candidate, recently was named one of 14 2015-2016 Graduate Fellows of the Rumsfeld Foundation. The announcement was made at the foundation’s 2015 Graduate Fellowship Conference in Washington, DC, Sept. 10 to 11, 2015.

Coughlin recently completed a three-month internship with the International Organization for Migration in Geneva, Switzerland, where she worked on project development, monitoring, and counter-trafficking projects. For INSCT, she worked with Murrett and other graduate students on a project involving the local US Department of Veterans Affairs, analyzing barriers that veterans face when using VA medical services.

In all, 48 former and current Graduate Fellows attended the conference, as well as more than half of the program’s advisors, including INSCT Deputy Director Robert B. Murrett.

During the conference, former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld provided opening remarks outlining the theme, “Implications of Actions and Inactions: A Citizen’s Responsibility and a Nation’s Signal to the World.” The keynote was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Steve Cambone, Director of the Rumsfeld Foundation, featuring John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the United Nations.

INSCT Deputy Director Robert B. Murrett (bottom right) listens to a keynote address delivered by former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at the 2015 Rumsfeld Foundation Graduate Fellowship Conference.


Warrior-Scholar Project Enlists Zoli

INSCT Director of Research Corri Zoli led a dynamic discussion on Alexis de Tocqueville with military veterans on July 13, 2015, as part of the Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP), a weeklong academic boot camp hosted on the Syracuse University campus from July 11 to 18, 2015.

WSP boot camps are immersive academic preparation courses for enlisted veterans and transitioning service members who are planning to enroll in or transfer into a four-year undergraduate program.

Each WSP course is run by an accomplished student-veteran, and taught by SU faculty. An intensive syllabus composed of both classical and modern texts—from de Tocqueville and Robert Frost to Francis Fukuyama and Robert Dahl—guides participants as they learn how to frame their ideas in an academic context and think critically.

WSP launched its first program at Yale University in 2012 with nine participants. Since then, WSP has expanded to encompass 11 top schools, including Syracuse University, and is on track to train more than 200 enlisted veterans in 2015.

For the full story from SU News, click here.


In Search of Post-9/11 Veterans’ Missing Perspectives


By Corri Zoli, Daniel Fay, & Rosalinda Maury

“We, as warfighters, yearn to give a narrative to our story, to the war we fought, to make sense of the madness.”

Marine Corps veteran Sebastian J. Bae

(Re-published from War on the Rocks, April 23, 2015) Recent discussions at military blogs and elsewhere raise important questions about moral injury and the Post-9/11 wars. With generous support from a Google Global Impact award, we surveyed over 8,400 recent warfighters on their military and post-service experiences. What we learned surprised us and revealed something troubling: warfighters’ experiences in the Post-9/11 wars and in post-service civilian life are too often missing from our national public consciousness and discourse. Despite a deluge of award-winning writing by recent veterans, including this generation’s invention of the war blog, sustained national interest in this war and its warfighters remains limited at best.

Missing Perspectives, Missing Strategy

The first point we want to emphasize is, thus, one of missing perspectives. We have noticed an overarching lack of deep interest—even on the part of the public, federal agencies that collect data on servicemembers (for benefits allocation), and academic researchers—about warfighters’ perspectives on the Post-9/11 wars and their personal impacts. As Sebastian Bae writes, “despite a decade of war, today’s veterans remain faceless, marginalized from society—either heroes or villains.” Significantly, “‘thank you for your service,’” Bae adds, “represents the banality of society’s understanding of the nation’s wars and the men and women who fought them.”

This lack of in-depth, evidence-based inquiry is also—unfortunately—common across academia and in government. Scholars know a lot, for instance, about the “greatest generation” of World War II veterans, Korean and Vietnam—even Civil War veterans. But aside from health and wellness studies, Gulf War I and Post-9/11 veterans—a cohort facing some of the mostcomplex battlefields, unprecedented deployments, and the highest service-related disability rates (see Table 1)—have received far less attention by social scientists, in education data efforts or in programing on college campuses (with some key exceptions). Likewise, despite the rhetoric of “supporting our troops,” neither the VA, the Department of Education, nor the Department of Defense have modernized their data efforts to understand how veterans are doing in the military-to-civilian transition, where they go to school, or which career pathways they chose. We don’t even know the total number of U.S. veterans—federal datasets conflict over this baseline number, despite its importance for benefits and services (see Table 2). In short, we as a nation—in government, academia, and elsewhere—have not sufficiently explored the experiences of recent veterans and their meaning for national public discussions of war, service, and security today.

Secondly, we want to raise one underappreciated source of this often superficial approach to the Post-9/11 wars and its warfighters: a missing or faltering national security strategy for today’s complex, asymmetric conflicts, which may aggravate post-service transition challenges for veterans, including combat stress and moral injury. Moral injury, “the pain resulting from violating one’s moral foundation,” is increasingly seen as “the hallmark of today’s veterans.” While psychologists are still trying to define this idea and its impacts, Sebastian Bae’s informal description is again worth underscoring:

“Unlike Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, moral injury does not stem from fear, but from struggling to reconcile a state of mind occurring in war, where moral clarity is impossible, and the morality society expects of us. To survive, we become someone we no longer recognize, accepting the inconceivable as the price of survival. So, guilt suffocates our voices, hiding stories we cannot share—society does not, or will not, understand.”

According to B.H. Liddel Hart, strategy is “the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfill the ends of policy.” But as Clausewitz knew well, policy objectives—not the military instruments of force to achieve them—are at the heart of strategic thinking, and this policy-oriented strategy itself is based on a narrative with “moral force” that then explains the need for a given war and its goals. Wars for modern, democracies are hard enough to prosecute: without a coherent strategic narrative with clear, worthwhile goals, the moral ambivalence that war (no matter how righteous) inevitably brings weighs most heavily on the “policy implementers,” the women and men of the armed forces tasked with effecting policymakers’ decisions and plans.

Given the importance of these two, missing, critical pieces of information—veterans’ perspectives, and a strategic narrative to explain these wars and our sacrifice—we have tried to structure our survey questions to fill in at least some of the gaps. In the process, we have gotten a glimpse, not only of the many transition challenges faced by today’s servicemembers, but their ongoing aspirations to contribute to public service beyond the military …

To read the complete blog, click here.

Corri Zoli is the Director of Research and an Assistant Research Professor at Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism. Daniel Fay is an Assistant Professor of Public Management at Mississippi State University. Rosalinda Maury is the Director of Survey Research at Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families.

Blue Stars: A Book Reading & Discussion of the Challenges of Military Family Life

[infobox color=”orange”]

WHAT: “Blue Stars: A Book Reading and Discussion of the Challenges of Military Family Life on the Home Front”

WHO: Emily Gray Tedrow

WHEN: March 25, 2015 | Noon

WHERE: Hall of Languages Room 500 | Syracuse University

SPONSORS: Institute for Veterans and Military Families, INSCT, and the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics


Blue Stars Book Reading

INSCT Alums Create Veterans Legal Clinic at SU College of Law

Syracuse University College of Law opens the first comprehensive veterans legal clinic in New York providing free legal assistance to veterans facing issues related to their veteran and military status.

The clinic [opened] on Jan. 8, 2015, with a special event at Dineen Hall … in the Melanie Gray Ceremonial Courtroom where the first class of veteran advocates, many of whom are current service members and veterans, [were] sworn in as student attorneys …

… The Veterans Legal Clinic at Syracuse University is the first and only comprehensive legal clinic in New York providing free legal assistance to veterans as they apply for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), appeal adverse VA decisions, and attempt to upgrade their military discharge.

“Syracuse University has a long history of educating veterans and the College of Law continues that tradition by providing necessary legal help in navigating what can be complex issues within VA claims,” said Syracuse College of Law Dean Hannah Arterian.

Syracuse Law alumni Tom Caruso, L’14  [a 2014 graduate of INSCT’s Curricular Program in National Security and Counterterrorism Law], and Josh Keefe, L’14 [a 2014 recipient of INSCT’s Certificate of Advanced Study in Security Studies] helped create the Veterans Legal Clinic. Their efforts began as first year law students when they met and founded the student group VISION (Veterans Issues, Support Initiative and Outreach Network) and also created Valor Day where Central New York veterans can obtain a range of free professional services. Through their determination and commitment to veterans issues, Caruso and Keefe have been focused on the funding and successful launch of this program before each returns to active duty as judge advocates for the United States Navy and Marine Corps.

The lack of access to legal services has a tremendous impact on veterans and military families. According to a recent survey by the VA, five of the top ten unmet needs of vets are legal in nature. Currently, there are nearly 600,000 unprocessed VA disability claims causing veterans to wait up to two years for compensation.

“When a veteran is assisted by an attorney when applying for benefits or upgrading their military discharge the impact can be incredible,” said Caruso. “Studies have shown that there is a 144 percent increase in compensation on VA claims and the veterans can have a VA decision in just a few weeks” …

For the complete story, click here.

(L to R) INSCT alumni Josh Keefe (LAW ’14) and Tom Caruso (LAW ’14) brief the press on the new Veterans Law Clinic at SU College of Law.