Graduate Certificate in Veterans Services

As part of the college’s ongoing commitment to veterans, this certificate provides professionals with skills and knowledge they need to support veterans as they transition to civilian life.  

The certificate is designed for:

  • veterans who want to serve other veterans
  • active-duty personnel interested in a career serving veterans
  • Veterans’ Administration employees who wish to advance their knowledge
  • social workers who need cultural competency and training in veterans' issues
  • education and career advisors who work with veterans
  • veterans’ services officers
  • human resources professionals in organizations committed to hiring veterans
  • law-enforcement personnel and other first responders
  • military family members who wish to advocate more effectively.

Program Design

Courses are taught online and students may begin the graduate certificate program in the fall, spring or summer terms.

Required Courses and Suggested Sequence

POL-623000 Veteran Services and Public Policy, 3 credits

This course provides a holistic overview of the policy framework within which federal, state, community-based and other veterans’ services are offered. Following an exploration of the figure of the warrior in society and culture, students will examine the evolution of public policy concerning veterans, critique current gaps and problems in the system and develop an understanding of how policy frameworks and service delivery interface.

The course includes:

  • historical perspective on veterans’ issues and public policy
  • consideration of the need for continued advocacy regarding new policies, benefits and technologies. 

POL-623001 Veteran Outreach, Services and Advocacy, 3 credits

This course provides grounding in the psychosocial landscape within which veterans’ services are offered and within the broad context of the experience of war and the challenge of coming home. The course identifies the challenges facing returning veterans, including reintegrating into the community, reconnecting with family, reorienting to the less-structured character of civilian life and, in some cases, adjusting to life with a disability. Special attention is paid to:

  • the family system and challenges facing the families of veterans
  • the effects of multiple and extended deployments
  • specific issues facing women veterans
  • generational differences among veterans
  • veterans as they age.

Finally, the course identifies strategies for reaching out to veterans, explores existing models for such outreach and service delivery and addresses the question of how to advocate for veterans across multiple communities and multiple political and social perspectives.

POL-623002 Veteran Programs and Benefits, 3 credits

This course provides a broad knowledge of specific veterans’ benefits and programs in health care, education, employment, criminal justice and housing. Topics include:

  • needs assessment
  • services and service providers
  • claims management, review and appeal.

Students gain experience in identifying the benefits available to specific veterans and groups of veterans, explore issues of access and eligibility and consider both the functional and the challenging aspects of the system of benefits.

POL-623004 Military and Veteran Culture: Developing Cultural Competency, 3 credits

Military culture is mediated by multiple factors, among them branch, rank, generation, race, gender, and sexuality, and the course has been designed to develop awareness of how those factors determine the experience of individuals in the military and, subsequently, with the veteran community. Specific issues of current importance include the differences made by multiple deployment and higher survival rates in America’s current wars, the changing role of women in the military, the cultural and command changes involved in responding to military sexual assault, and the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Topics include:

  • reasons for enlisting in the military
  • effects of military training
  • formal and informal military structures
  • military hierarchy
  • military terminology
  • active-duty military and veterans in work and educational environments
  • effects of military service on later life. 

Admission and Advisement

Admission to the certificate program requires the applicant to submit an official transcript of his or her bachelor’s degree along with a completed application. Advising will be provided by the certificate coordinator, Penny Coleman.

Program Coordinator: Penny Coleman, penny.coleman@esc.edu

While the 12 credits are fully transferable into the M.A. in social policy program, acceptance will require candidates to apply to the master’s degree program and complete the full admission process. Completion of the graduate certificate does not guarantee admission to the master’s degree program.

Apply online or request information for more details about the certificate in veterans services.