Colonel David Sutherland Speaks about Student Veterans in Higher Education

by Clinical Professor James Holbrook

Colonel David W. Sutherland, who is the Special Assistant to Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law on Friday, August 26, 2011, about issues affecting Veterans in higher education. Colonel Sutherland organized his presentation around the Soldier’s Creed and his experiences of its principles in combat:

I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.

COL David Sutherland addressing a joint session of the National Service Academy class, the Global Justice Think Tank, and the Army ROTC.

Colonel Sutherland used these principles to articulate our society’s responsibilities to the men and women who have served our country in uniform and who have separated from military service and are reintegrating as citizens, especially those reintegrating as students pursuing higher education. Veterans face a host of unique issues including some with profound permanent physical injuries, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, drug and alcohol dependency, depression, family conflict and divorce, unemployment, homelessness, high drop-out rates, and suicide. Student Veterans deal with these issues as they work to succeed in the classroom.

Colonel Sutherland is the Director of Admiral Mullen’s Warrior and Family Support Office. He spoke to law students in Professor Holbrook’s National Service Academy course, plus students in the law school’s Global Justice Think Tank, and other students who are members of the law school’s Student Veterans Association. The commander of the University’s Army ROTC program also attended, as did Roger Perkins, the director of the University’s new Veterans Support Center. Currently, the University has a thousand student Veterans pursuing a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees. Colonel Sutherland emphasized that a robust university Veterans’ support center is essential for the success of Veterans on campus.

CPT Chris Manglicmot and Roger Perkins, Director of the U’s Veterans Support Center

Admiral Mullen and members of his senior staff have been very supportive of the University’s National Center for Veterans Studies (NCVS) and the law school’s National Service Academy pilot project (NSA PP). The law school and the University’s College of Social and Behavioral Science are the co-sponsors of the NCVS which provides applied research on Veterans’ health and family issues; education and training; community outreach supporting Veterans and their employment; and advocacy on Veterans’ issues.

The NSA PP recruits Veterans as undergraduate and graduate students into the University’s colleges and departments. As they pursue their major studies, student Veterans will take several core courses together to help prepare them for national and international service utilizing their invaluable military experience, expertise, and skills. Students in the NSA PP will graduate with recognition as NSA Fellows.