Author provides tips for veterans seeking education

Author provides tips for veterans seeking education

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Educational opportunity has been one of the most popular benefits available to service members since passage of the original G.I. Bill in the years following WWII. But many veterans have found the classroom to be a battlespace with its own set of challenges.

Former Staff Sergeant John H. Davis knows both these areas well. After serving two combat deployments with the 101st Airborne Division, Davis returned to civilian life and decided to get a college degree. In fact, he got two: a bachelor’s in history from St. Joseph’s College, then a master’s degree in education from Harvard (where he is confident that he is the most heavily tattooed grad in school history).

Davis has distilled his hard-won lessons in Combat to College: Applying the Military Mentality as a Student Veteran, the latest title in the AUSA Book Program. This practical guide shows veterans how to navigate the transition to the academic world and make college success non-negotiable.

We sat down with Davis discuss the book and his own college experiences.


AUSA: What inspired you to get a college degree after your Army service?

Davis: I wanted to be a teacher. That's what I loved about the military: teaching people. A college degree is a requirement, so I went all in on college and took it as serious as my military contract.


AUSA: Getting a degree is challenging enough. What drove you to write this book?

Davis:  I worked in a VA work-study program helping student veterans during college. I gave tours of campus, certified benefits, and volunteered for all things student veteran related. I saw firsthand and up close the challenges student veterans face. That led to me making a list that I gave to incoming student veterans called "John's College Tips." Those eventually morphed into the chapters of my book.


AUSA: What are some common obstacles veterans face in the college environment?

Davis: We're nontraditional students, we're older, more likely to have families, more likely to need employment--and over 50% of student veterans have a service-connected disability. All of this presents challenges. That's why I wanted to prepare veterans to better succeed in college and make the most of their education.


AUSA: How can veterans find the support they need to succeed?

Davis: You didn't run military missions alone, don't go at college alone either. Build support around yourself like armor, find mentors, connect with student veteran organizations, and get as involved on your campus as you can.


AUSA: What would you say to a veteran who is currently struggling in the first semester and considering dropping out?

Davis:  Student veterans that make it through their first year are more likely to make it to graduation. You have grit--if you made it through the military, you can make it through college. And like the military, it doesn't need to be pretty, just get the job done.


To order a copy of Combat to College, please visit