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Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL)

The Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership initiative or VITAL program is committed to aiding student Veterans in adjusting to the academic setting, helping Veterans to overcome obstacles that might impede academic success, and supporting Veterans in completing their educational goals.

A uniformed servicemember holds a stack of books against an American flag background.

VITAL is a Veteran-centered, results oriented, collaboration between the VA Medical Center(VAMC) and higher education. We understand the unique factors facing our student Veterans. We are here to help. If you are a Veteran enrolled in a local college or university or looking to do so, VITAL will partner with you to resolve issues and find resources.

VITAL Services

For Veterans

  • On campus treatment for stress, anger, transition, adjustment, concentration, depression, anxiety, sleep problems and PTSD on campus
  • Referral to and collaboration with university disability services to request academic accommodations
  • Assistance with enrollment and care at the VA Medical Center
  • Help with resources from within the VA and its affiliates including: Veterans Benefits
  • Administration (VBA) and Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Peer to peer mentoring and support from fellow student veterans
  • Support with obtaining and using assistive technology devices such as hearing aids and screen-reader software
  • Academic Success Learning Modules

For Academic Faculty / Staff

  • Education for college/university staff about Military and Veteran culture
  • Consultation about Veteran specific issues that impact performance and retention
  • Collaboration with college/university counseling centers in serving the unique mental health needs of Veterans

VITAL Program Coordinator

D. Aaron Ahern, Ph.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist
VA Salt Lake City health care
Phone: 801-828-6787


VITAL Academic Success Modules

These modules were created by the VA’s VITAL Program to help support Veterans as they navigate higher education. We have modules on a variety of topics. Feel free to pick and choose based on the ones that are most relevant to you. If you apply these tools and continue to have difficulties, a clinician or peer mentor with the VITAL program will be happy to meet with you to provide additional support. You can call 801-828-6787 to get support through the VITAL Program. Thanks for watching!

Module 1: Academic and Study Skills

This module covers academic and study skills, including tips for making the most of attending class, note taking strategies, studying tips, reading strategies, memorization strategies, studying for exams, and tips for interacting with professors.

Watch - Module 1: Academic and Study Skills

Module 2: Adjusting to Civilian Life

This module covers the transition from military to civilian life and strategies for coping with the challenges of that transition. The module also discusses difficulties Veterans can face in relating to other students, the importance of building a sense of community, and identifying your “why” (e.g. why are you going to school?).

Watch - Module 2: Adjusting to Civilian Life

Module 3: Remote Learning

This module focuses on remote learning, including making a workspace at home, creating routines and boundaries, using a calendar and planner effectively, connecting with peers and professors in a virtual space, and setting attainable goals.

Academic Success for Student Veterans - Veteran Training (

Module 4: Study Skills

This module covers tips for overcoming procrastination, effective time management, and information about learning styles and how that can help you study smarter.

Academic Success for Student Veterans - Veteran Training (

Module 5: Resource Scouting

This module covers information about common resources on campus (e.g. student veterans offices, tutoring services, writing center, advising center, student organizations and clubs) as well as information about educational accommodations.

Academic Success for Student Veterans - Veteran Training (

Module 6: Communication

This module covers information about communication styles, barriers and challenges to effective communication, self-advocacy, and tips for communicating more effectively.

Academic Success for Student Veterans - Veteran Training (

VITAL Peer Mentor Training

Module 1

Module 1 will provide relevant information on the Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) program, it’s intended purpose, as well as some of the measured outcomes of the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System VITAL program. You will also be introduced to some of the key tasks that Peer Mentors undertake within the VITAL program.

Watch - VITAL Peer Mentor Training: Module 1

Module 2

Module 2 will provide information on effective communication skills with regard to verbal and non-verbal communication, active and reflective listening, how to ask questions effectively, cultural considerations, empathy, and overcoming barriers to communication. This module will also provide information of how to use self-disclosure as means for helping student Veterans.

Watch - VITAL Peer Mentor Training: Module 2

Module 3

Module 3 will familiarize you with the basics of mental health issues including prevalence within the population and myths that often accompany mental illness. Stigma are associated with seeking help for mental health, we will discuss strategies for overcoming those stigmas and for helping others to do the same. You will also be presented with useful information to prepare you for crisis situations should they arise.

Watch - VITAL Peer Mentor Training: Module 3

VA Enrollment Training

This training provides an overview of the online VA enrollment process and how to best help student Veterans sign up for health care.

Watch - VITAL Peer Mentor VA Enrollment Training

VITAL Program Documents and Standard Operating Procedures

VITAL Program Manual

Appointment Tools

Duties and Responsibilities

Note Templates

Outreach Materials

Resource Lists

VITAL Manual Site Resource Pages

Site Specific Documents

Western Governors University


Standard Operating Procedures

Training Documents

Peer Interview Questions

VITAL Mission Statement