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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Gretchen B. Rossman

Second Advisor

Jennifer Hickes Lundquist

Third Advisor

Shane P. Hammond

Subject Categories

Higher Education Administration


Veterans have long-succeeded in higher education, but because available data on contemporary student veteran success has been difficult to uncover, some question the success of this reemerging student population. While data is emerging that suggest student veterans are succeeding in higher education, this study sought to reveal factors that contributed to the success of graduating student veterans in the hopes that these factors can be nurtured in current and future generations of student veterans to help ensure their success as students. Using a new method, the focused life-history narrative, and a conceptual model grounded in nontraditional student theory and Astin’s IEO Model, this study suggests that success influencers emerge during the education of veterans, primarily from faculty and staff, but also from peer veterans, that serve to validate the decision to go to college by veterans and thus propels veterans forward to success. Other findings suggest that timely and accurate processing of education benefits serves to improve focus on the academic experience, rather than worrying about tuition and fee payments, enhancing success. Finally, this study suggests that structure and discipline are important to the successful degree attainment of veterans.