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ASU serves veterans with 'Rucksacks to Backpacks'

January 19, 2010

Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and its Veterans Affairs Committee will conduct a  “Rucksacks to Backpacks” event March 4, at the West campus, for prospective students who have served in the U.S. military.

The event will take place in the campus from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., in the University Center Building (UCB), La Sala Ballroom.

“This is being hosted to assist prospective student veterans gather important information regarding the admission process for veterans, the post-9/11 G.I. Bill, West campus resources and the variety of majors available to them in New College,” said Jenna Graham, New College student support coordinator.

The event is the brainchild of the New College Veterans Affairs Committee, established last April by Elizabeth Langland, dean of the New College, and chaired by Monica Casper, director of the college’s Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies. The committee includes faculty, staff and student members, including veterans.

“With literally thousands of veterans returning home from active duty and potentially leaving the military, we are facing an increased demand for flexible, affordable, marketable and rigorous degree programs that will help these veterans transition from military to civilian life,” said Casper, who came to ASU in 2008 after serving four years as the director of the women’s and gender studies department at Vanderbilt University. “We are doing our best to improve educational options for veterans on the G.I. Bill, and this is a small but important part of the process – reaching out to veterans and letting them know about the many resources available to them as they consider a return to or an entry into higher education.”

Casper, who received her doctorate in sociology from the University of California, San Francisco, and completed her postdoctoral fellowship in biomedical ethics at Stanford University, has long been interested in military issues, specifically trauma, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and gender dynamics. At ASU’s West campus she teaches trauma studies and has been using war-related injuries as a case study in her courses since the advent of the war in Iraq. In September of 2007 her brother-in-law was killed in Helmand Province in southwest Afghanistan.

“Veterans are a unique population with specific histories and needs,” she said. “Many will enter college older than the typical first-year student, and they will do so with a variety of credit hours for courses taken during military service that don’t necessarily match standard collegiate offerings. Veterans also have higher rates of disability than the general population and thus require a unique set of support services.

“The degree program offerings and university services available to veterans will be discussed in detail at Rucksacks to Backpacks, and we’re looking forward to answering whatever questions these new and prospective students may have.”

Graham notes there are a number of services offered through ASU’s Veterans Services Office and the Veterans Upward Bound/TRiO program.

“We want these students to know what resources are available to them before they start at ASU, and this event is the best way for them to find out what those resources are, and to talk with and visit with fellow students and New College faculty and staff.

For additional information, contact Jenna Graham at 602-543-6097.  To RSVP to Rucksacks to Backpacks, visit