Bauman, M. (2009). The mobilization and return of undergraduate students serving in the National Guard and Reserves. New Directions for Student Services, 2009 (126), 15-23. DOI: 10.1002/ss.312
This article by Bauman covers the three phases of the stopping-out process experienced by students serving in military reserve unites and the National Guard. The author interviewed 24 citizen soldiers from two institutions to provide a snapshot of they experienced as they were mobilized to active duty and returned to civilian life. The three phases, as described by Bauman, are pre-mobilization, separation, and return.
During pre-mobilization the students prepare to separate from employment, family, friends, and their educational institutions. It is a time of anxiety without a true deadline for mobilization. Interviews with students indicated that it can be difficult to make definitive plans at this time without the knowledge of an actual deployment date. However, planning does begin in this stage as drills and connectedness with the military unit increase.
The separation phase begins when mobilization orders are received. This is the longest of the three stages, and by many student accounts the most emotional. Most students make a clean break with their educational institution during this time. Bauman also states that this is the stage during which faculty and staff at the institution can make a “profound difference” (p. 19). By maintaining contact with the students during their deployment staff and faculty can ease the transitions that students experience.
Phase three is returning to civilian life. Students during this stage experienced mixed emotions. They were elated to return home to friends and family, anxious about the changes that had occurred during their absence, and uncomfortable with the lack of a clear purpose that they felt. Many did not want to face returning to their education due to the fact that many of their peers would have graduated or be ahead of them in the curriculum. There are many other emotional and social aspects that can make the return difficult. It is important for institutions to have staff available to help returning veterans navigate the administration of the educational benefits they are entitled too.
In the summary and recommendations Bauman encourages campus leaders to explore ways of supporting student veterans socially, emotionally, and administratively. One of the ways I believe we can do this is to support our student soldiers through all phases of stopping-out, including making the effort to stay in contact while they are deployed and encouraging them to return to our institutions by providing the best possible services upon their return.