The purpose of this research was to utilize co-design thinking to investigate and understand the experiences of veteran students entering into college at The Ohio State University (OSU) after military service, and to assist the university in improving those transition experiences. The research significance is that an increasing number of post 9/11 era veterans are utilizing the educational benefits earned through their service. Many of these service members have spent years inside a military culture, which has inadequately prepared them for a transition to the civilian and academic environments.
It has been found that veteran students often self-segregate due to age differences, and their experiences gained through military service. Additionally, while OSU’s Office of Military and Veteran Services (OMVS) has been doing incredible things to help veteran students transition away from the military and into OSU, many of their practices tend to promote self-segregation rather than integration.
Although it is not true across the entire population of veteran students, the research conducted showed that many sought opportunities for improved social integration programs. Opportunities lie in finding a balance between the culture that veteran students share, and integration into the civilian culture they are now part of. Additionally, veteran students could benefit from additional support in regards to academics and logistics when navigating through OSU.
The study conducted was comprised of preliminary interviews with a director of the OMVS, an initial survey, four co-design sessions with volunteer veteran students, and an evaluative survey to gain deeper insight into the possible new service concepts generated during the co-design sessions. Based on the research results, proposed new services and improvements to existing ones were presented to OSU’s OMVS.