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#134 “Giving Returning Veterans the Best We Have” After WWII And Today

Jeff Dobbin 200 Things about Norwich, This Week in History

In August 1945, President Homer Dodge issued a statement in the Norwich Record about veterans seeking an education at Norwich. He articulated the diverse needs of the veteran student body and pledged the university’s support for veterans of varied backgrounds and experiences. The president committed Norwich to “giving returning veterans the best we have.”

The policies he implemented included allowing any former Norwich student the opportunity to return and complete his degree, even if it meant teaching a required course to just one student; not requiring married veterans to live in the barracks; allowing veterans to opt out entirely from military training on a case-by-case basis; and adopting a rolling admissions policy for veterans so that they could begin their studies as soon as their schedule allowed. A special Veterans Cadet Corps was established for those students who wanted to participate in ROTC but live in a separate barracks under non-military discipline.

In early 1946, the university constructed a small village of trailer homes to accommodate the married veterans who would be bringing wives and children to campus with them. It was located south of the engineering complex, where the Kreitzberg Library and Sullivan Museum stand today. This expanded housing capacity meant that the university could take on more students than usual, and in the fall of 1946, approximately 500 World War II veterans were enrolled at Norwich—almost 75% of the student body.

Eventually, life at Norwich began to more closely resemble what it was like before the war. By the fall of 1949, most of the returning veterans had completed their degrees, and all four classes of students had returned to full participation in the Corps of Cadets military training.

Norwich’s commitment to educating and supporting veterans continues to this day. The College of Graduate and Continuing Studies provides valuable opportunities for students to get a degree flexibly during or after their time in the service. Here on campus, an active Student Veterans Council provides advocacy and fellowship for military and veteran students, while a Veterans Affairs Team brings together support services from admissions to financial planning and student success. Norwich also participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides enhanced G.I. Bill benefits to post-9/11 veterans.