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Focusing on How to Serve Veterans on Campus

Posted Jun. 30, 2014

Veterans Focus Group Salem

Kent State’s Columbiana County Campuses are reaching out to the military veterans among their students, seeking ways to support their academic success.

Through a series of focus groups facilitated by Katherine Vance-Righetti, mental health counselor for the Salem and East Liverpool campuses, veteran students shared their experiences with the physical campus environments, being in the classroom, working with faculty and with campus resources. 

“The purpose of the event was to go right to the students and ask how we can be useful and effective,” she explained. “We want to support all students in any way to encourage academic and graduate success.”

Vance-Righetti said that she chose continuing education training that emphasizes working with the military population. During the focus groups, some discussion points reiterated information she already learned about servicing veteran students, but hearing it directly from them solidified the learning.

“I was grateful that they were willing to share and take time out to help me understand the military culture. They had some significant ideas on how to improve their experience,” Vance-Righetti said. “Over the summer and during the 2014-2015 school year, I will present information with the intent of having their voices heard and ideas considered. It takes time and tenacity to make change, but with both, change can happen.”

Participants included male and female students, representing most branches of the Armed Services. They each received incentives valued at about $55 for being part of a focus group and for completing Peer Support Training.  

Assisting Vance-Righetti was Amy Johnston, a veteran dependent and student intern with the Counseling and Wellness Services on the Columbiana County campuses; as well as Beth Allison-Christy and Tim Long, veteran certifying officials for Kent State East Liverpool and Salem.    

The project was developed, in part, by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration and US Department of Health and Human Services. Other sponsors included Health Path of Greater Cincinnati and OPCSMH.

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Photo Cutline:
Participating in a veteran’s focus group on the Kent Salem Campus were (from left) Katherine Vance-Righetti, mental health counselor; Amy Johnston, student intern; and veteran students Allistor Habis, Brian Williams, Jennifer Christensen and John Rudder.

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Media Contact:
Tina Smith, 330-337-4274, tsmit170@kent.edu