For your average student, it might be easy to overlook the unique perspectives that student-veterans bring to campus. One might even be misled into thinking higher education is easier for student-veterans — with a highly-developed work ethic and a versatile set of skills, student-veterans have the capacity to succeed as both collaborative and independent workers. Moreover, the breadth of their training lends well to many disciplines.
Still, student-veterans sometimes face challenges in higher education. Although their training and knowledge may lend well to classroom learning, veterans can feel disconnected from their colleagues and professors. Student-veterans who have experienced trauma may also have unique physical, emotional, and educational needs.
Taking the helm of Veteran Services at Goodwin University is Vietnam Veteran and experienced educator Craig Jordan. As Veteran Services Coordinator, Jordan has not only helped place student-veterans at the center of the Goodwin community — he has also established a community hub where local veterans can find support and teamwork is the key to success.
A student-centered approach to Veteran Services
Those who are familiar with higher education are likely to know that Veteran Services are offered by most colleges and universities. Goodwin University, along with other forward-thinking schools across the state, has adopted a new approach to Veteran Services that focuses on ensuring veterans, service members and families receive the resources, support, and advocacy they need to succeed in the transition to life after military service.
An OASIS (Operation Academic Support for Incoming Service) is not your average veteran services center. Serving as an on-campus home base for student-veterans, OASIS centers provide a safe space to work, unwind, and socialize with fellow veterans and servicepeople. This allows student-veterans with opportunities to regularly connect with each other, fostering a supportive on-campus community.
When Craig Jordan first joined Goodwin as the Veteran Services Coordinator 2017, establishing a Veterans OASIS was his first order of business. “Prior to my arrival in 2017, a Veterans OASIS had already been identified as a critical need by the Goodwin student veteran community,” Jordan recounts.
Establishing an open-door OASIS
Jordan was initially drawn to Goodwin by our unique approach to Veteran Services. “At Goodwin, Veteran Services operates under the umbrella of Student Services,” Jordan explains. “This isn’t typical at most colleges and universities.”
Jordan helped coordinate the opening of the Veterans’ OASIS. In the true Goodwin spirit, it was decided that a student-centered approach would be taken in establishing the center. “Most Veterans’ OASIS centers are located on remote parts of campuses,” Jordan details. “People think that student-veterans come from such different circumstances, they need their own space.”
At Goodwin, our Veterans’ OASIS places student-veterans at the heart of Goodwin’s campus — centrally located on the second floor of One Riverside Drive. “By being positioned right at the center of campus,” Jordan offers, “The OASIS helps increase the visibility and inclusion of student-veterans, all while providing them with a convenient space.”
The Veterans’ OASIS — which opened in 2021 due to COVID-related delays — already plays an indispensable role on campus. “We have an open-door policy, and our veterans really establish a comfort zone here.”
“My training in the Army made me realize that nursing was my true calling, but it was the veteran resources and Nursing instructors at Goodwin that prepared me for my future career as a nurse.”
– Chris Laudati, RN
Jordan’s Journey to Veteran Services
In his ability to facilitate a community-wide support system for veterans, Craig Jordan is uniquely qualified. Born and raised in East Hartford, Jordan’s local, military, and educational knowledge lend themselves to his success as Veteran Services Coordinator.
Jordan earned his degree in secondary social studies education from Providence College in 1969, but he wasn’t headed straight for the classroom. As an ROTC student and Deputy Commission Officer, Jordan had different postgraduate obligations. After completing a year of training at Fort Carson, he was deployed as platoon leader with the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1969-1970.
After returning to the United States to fulfill obligations to the Reserves, Jordan started finding work throughout the East Hartford community. He earned a role as the Director of Parks and Recreation before pursuing an open position at O’Brien Middle School in East Hartford. Jordan was hired for the job, officially setting his teaching career into motion.
Later, Jordan became an instructor at East Hartford High School, where he taught Government, Geography, and U.S. History. However, his focus wasn’t only on delivering lessons. “It was really about rapport and relationships,” Jordan elaborates. “When students feel supported and know you’re there for them, it makes all the difference.” This philosophy carried Jordan through the ranks of East Hartford’s public schools. He eventually advanced to administration, with his final role being that of principal at East Hartford High School.
A network for student-veteran support
Though Jordan misses his work as a teacher and administrator, he’s carried the same ideals about student support to Goodwin.
His support for student-veterans begins from the time they enroll. Before the start of every term, Jordan hosts a special orientation at the Veteran’s OASIS. At the orientation, Jordan helps acclimate student-veterans to Goodwin University by teaching them about the various supports that will be available to them. The support offered by Jordan range from academic to military-specific. “We do open forums, bring in counselors, help with VA benefits, and more,” he elaborates.
Communication is the key
While these services are critical, Jordan has found that the most effective support for student-veterans is the relationships they build together and the rapport among them. “From the beginning,” he emphasizes, “We really promote the idea that communication is the key.”
In establishing an open line of communication with his students, Jordan goes above and beyond — even tailoring his work schedule around his students’ classes. “I like to be available for support while they’re here,” Jordan offers. This also helps Jordan take a team-based approach to student-veteran support. “I drop into classes to check in with students, but I also establish a connection with their professors and program advisors, too. The idea is that we’re all a team supporting the student’s success.”
Crediting this approach to his background in the military and public education, Jordan explains why a strong support system is critical to the success of student-veterans. “Veterans often come to school with different circumstances. A lot of them are older than their classmates and have families, which can keep them very busy. Others may be experiencing personal challenges, which can affect their attendance or performance in school.” By establishing a supportive team with his students’ professors and advisors, Jordan helps student-veterans stay on-track to achieving their goals.
Did you know that Goodwin is one of the Top Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities?
Learn more about how Goodwin supports our student-veterans.
A Hub for East Hartford’s Veterans
The support offered by Veteran Services extends beyond the walls of Goodwin, reaching out to the East Hartford community at large.
On important dates (such as 9/11, Veteran’s Day, and Memorial Day,) Jordan hosts programs and events wherein veterans from both the University and community can share their stories and experiences with one another. Moreover, the Veterans’ OASIS also serves as a convenient and accessible meeting place for the Eastern River Veteran’s Organization for Disabled Veterans, Chapter 12.
“The Veterans’ OASIS and Goodwin have really become a hub for veterans in the area,” Jordan offers.
Veteran visibility at the heart of Goodwin
Exemplifying Goodwin’s role as a veterans’ hub is the Connecticut Fallen Star Memorial, which Jordan was on the volunteer committee to help procure. From the highway above, you can spot the 20-foot sculpture at the front of the Pent Rd Manufacturing Center. First unveiled in 2019, it honors the lives lost by over 30,000 Connecticut servicepeople.
Like the OASIS, the Connecticut Fallen Star Memorial is a veterans’ sanctuary. Aside from being the landmark where Veteran Services hosts annual 9/11 ceremonies, it is a key location for the Memorial Day parade — a parade that Jordan plays an instrumental role in organizing.
Serving as another instance of Goodwin’s community-wide support for East Hartford veterans, the local Memorial Day parade is unique compared to others around the state — rather than being hosted by the city itself, the parade is supported by Goodwin University. “During COVID, East Hartford cancelled the Memorial Day Parade,” Jordan explains.
Recognizing the importance of this event, Goodwin took the reins. The parade is now organized by a volunteer committee, which operates under Goodwin’s umbrella. “We started hosting the Memorial Day Parade, which has been a big event for local veterans,” Jordan elaborates. “East Hartford had not had a Memorial Day Parade for several years. It is great bringing the parade back, in addition to the Program at the Fallen Star Memorial and a Community Day Celebration. It is a team effort by the Veteran Community, The Office of the Mayor, the Veterans Commission, and Goodwin University. Working together is what makes this such a success.”
A promising future for Veteran Services
On January 19, 2023, Craig Jordan was inducted into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame for his ongoing efforts to support fellow veterans throughout his community. Now, Jordan continues looking for future opportunities to celebrate, support, and recognize Goodwin’s student-veterans. Aside from awarding honors such as Student-Veteran of the Month and admittance to the Student-Veterans National Honor Society, Jordan recently helped the Vietnam Veterans of East Hartford establish a thousand-dollar scholarship (which will be awarded to an exceptional student-veteran).
Looking to the East Hartford community at large, Jordan hopes to continue strengthening the visibility and involvement of local veterans. “Prior to the pandemic, we started having student and local veterans go into classes and give presentations,” Jordan remembers.
Reestablishing these programs has proven difficult. “A lot of the classes we used to do this in are now virtual. I’m working with program directors to find a way we can make this happen again.” Beyond the walls of Goodwin, Jordan would also like to see Veteran Services provide local high schools with presentations on important dates, such as 9/11 and Veterans Day.
Above all, Jordan would like to continue connecting with and supporting his student-veterans. “It’s changed a bit since COVID, and a lot of student interactions are virtual now. In the future, I hope to work with more student-veterans in person. The door to the OASIS center is always open.”
Veteran Services at Goodwin University
Goodwin University is proud to provide a safe space for students and local veterans alike. We thank all American veterans for their service and sacrifices. Goodwin thanks and proudly recognizes Craig Jordan for his ongoing work with Veteran Services and throughout the community.
Learn more about Veteran Services at Goodwin University, or contact 800-889-3282.