We're All Green hopes to combat the struggles veterans face by implementing a structure all service men and women are familiar with: The Chain of Command. By diving veteran students into platoons made of their peers, not authority figures, We're All Green can instill the same sense of accountability that helps reduce risk to service members while actively serving.
By forming the platoons from peers instead of faculty or individuals in a position of authority, it makes it possible for the veterans to develop relationships with each other that will emulate the same relationships they experienced during the service. Veterans will share stories, struggles, triumphs, and failures with each other, providing a much needed outlet that isn't currently found in the civilian world, for a veteran.
We're All Green focuses on the needs of the veteran while transitioning from soldier to student. It benefits the veteran to have a mentor in this process because veterans face unique challenges when they arrive on campus. According to the Millions Records Project, only 52% of veterans earn a degree at the expiration of their benefits. These are men and women who have survived combat, but aren't thriving in the classroom environment. By not earning degrees, veterans are not able to continue serving their country to the high level they are able. We're All Green aims to increase the number of veterans who earn a degree while using their GI Bill.
Some of the issues veterans face are as follows, although the issues are not limited solely to this list:
* Developing a primary identity other than as a soldier.
* Difficulty relating to and connecting with traditional college students. Age differences and the experience of combat (e.g., bullets whizzing by, mortar attacks, roadside bombs) frequently cause veterans to feel different than and alienated from traditional college students. Typical student concerns like grades, parties, and joining organizations seldom have the same significance to veterans, who often voice a sense of greater maturity and seriousness than traditional students. The felt alienation can be exacerbated on politically charged campuses where antiwar and other forms of protests occur.
* Finding importance and meaning in experiences and ideas that are not life-or-death.
* Campus life and concerns may seem trivial compared to those found in combat.
* Negotiating the structural and procedural differences between the military and higher education bureaucracies (e.g., knowing the rules and mores of the campus-where to go to get things done, how to address professors and others in positions of authority).
* Making a much greater number of decisions in a far more complex world. While the potential consequences of a combat soldier's decisions are staggering, the total number of autonomous daily decisions is quite small when compared to college life.
* Developing a sense of safety on campus (e.g., choosing classroom seats that allow for monitoring of others and rapid escape, such as sitting with their back to the wall and near a door).
* Boredom (e.g., missing the adrenaline rush experienced in the 'high' of battle)
* Having difficulty returning to their role as children of their parents. The maturing process of serving in combat may cause younger veterans to be less accommodating to parental expectations and demands.
* They can feel alienated in the university environment, where people may not seem to understand the difficulties military members faced or the challenges they endured. Military members are returning from an intense and close community built on common experience.
* Some service members who are returning to college after military service will be older than many other new students and have different priorities.
* Anxiety issues related to deployment are common and may interfere with veterans feeling comfortable during the transition and building new relationships. It should not be assumed, however, that all returning veterans suffer from mental health issues.
* Some veterans are also making a physical transition, learning to live with new disabilities. Strong and supportive communities can ease the transition for all of these veterans, as can ensuring that veterans are aware of the appropriate resources.