Veterans’ Health

Grantee Name

SUNY New Paltz Foundation, Inc.

Funding Area

Veterans’ Health

Publication Date

November 2019

Grant Amount

$134,871

Grant Date:

January 2018 - December 2018

New York has a growing population of post-9/11 veterans, many of whom are enrolled in institutions of higher learning.

College campuses nationwide are experiencing an increase in student veterans, military service members, and dependent enrollment as a result of the high number of troops returning from deployment and enhanced G.I. Bill educational benefits. However, adjusting to academic structures and schedules; balancing family, work, and school; and managing medical conditions can make the transition to life as a college student especially challenging for individuals with military experience. Fear of the consequences of reporting mental health and physical health concerns may inhibit student veterans from seeking out needed services. Moreover, most student health centers are ill-equipped to meet the unique needs of veterans. In 2017, NYSHealth awarded the SUNY New Paltz Foundation a grant to adapt a veteran and military competency curriculum and deliver trainings at SUNY campuses to critical groups of campus staff.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Selected SUNY campuses for trainings based on the percentage of student veterans and existence of health and wellness centers on each campus.
  • Conducted focus groups to better understand the needs of student veterans on SUNY campuses.
  • Collaborated with Student Veterans of America to create a six-hour competency training that addresses the challenges and needs that veterans face when transitioning out of the service and into college student life.
  • Delivered the training to 198 college professionals from numerous departments, including health and wellness, student life, finance, and enrollment, falling just short of the original goal of training 210 college professionals. However, SUNY New Paltz Foundation received interest from both the City of New York (CUNY) and private college campuses for these trainings, ultimately reaching 62 campuses across New York State, exceeding its original goal of 15 SUNY campuses.
  • Conducted a post-workshop evaluation for 165 participants, as well as a 3-month follow-up evaluation for 158 participants.
    • The post-workshop evaluation found that:
      • 96% said that they were likely or very likely to take action, individually or as a department, as a result of the training.
      • 99% were likely or very likely to share the information they learned with colleagues.
    • The follow-up evaluation found that:
      • 97% reported an increase in their awareness of the needs of the student veteran population.
      • 91% felt more prepared to provide services to military students and veterans.

Beyond tracking the number of participants, SUNY New Paltz Foundation found it challenging to quantify the measurable impact of the trainings. The trainings were held in the spring semester, and it was difficult to determine how many more veterans used services as a result of the training, primarily because campuses are less populated during the summer. Additionally, a lack of baseline measures on how many veterans were previously using health and wellness resources makes it difficult to track any fluctuations in resources accessed by student veterans.

This grant was a lesson learned for both the Foundation and SUNY New Paltz Foundation about the importance of having a clear evaluation plan for measuring impact, as well as obtaining baseline measures for interventions to appropriately track progress. Additionally, rather than starting in the spring, this intervention could have been initiated in the fall semester to allow project staff to measure outcomes and impact while the majority of students are still on campus. Future projects related to college campuses will include strong consideration for project start and end dates.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: N/A