School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


David Vacchi


veterans education, student veterans, higher education, support services


Educational Administration and Supervision | Higher Education


The purpose of this case study was to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that support combat student veterans in a private institution of higher education. The theory guiding this study was Astin’s developmental theory of student involvement for higher education. The conceptual framework guiding the study was Vacchi’s model of student veteran support. The theory and conceptual framework explain the relationship between what these nontraditional students bring to the academic experience, the role of educators, and factors contributing to, or detracting from their success in higher education. Combat student veterans, and staff of support services were interviewed, and some participated in a focus group. They answered open-ended questions as related to the central research question “What are the factors that are supportive of combat student veterans at a private institution of higher education?” This was a single case study design with embedded multiple units of analysis. The sub-questions were designed to develop an in-depth description and analysis of key issues related to combat student veterans in higher education. Transcripts of collected data were analyzed to identify common themes and contextual information that were coded to develop and interpret meaning of the cases and lessons learned by using case assertions. The results of the study indicated that the quality of support services, caliber and characteristics of faculty and staff, and distinctive personal factors of combat student veterans were most supportive of combat student veterans in higher education. This study also yielded data indicating a need for a veteran-specific orientation session or course, and for targeted training for staff and faculty at institutions of higher education.