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Camo to College and Beyond Conference



Over the past five years, the School of Nursing at Davenport University earned the honor of becoming a Veteran Bachelor of Nursing participant under the Health Services and Resources Administration grant. This academic pathway in the BSN-Prelicensure program fast tracks former medical military personnel by granting advanced standing for transcripted military training or credit by exam.


This event was designed to focus on educationally supporting veterans in their transition from military member to a practicing nurse. The conference focused on best practices and strategies in supporting veteran student success and how to prepare them to enter the civilian workforce.

LOCATION: W.A. Lettinga Campus, Grand Rapids, MI

WHEN: A pre-conference was held Thursday June 7th  with the main Conference Friday June 8th, 2018

At the conference, attendees learned about:

  • The academic and clinical needs of the military/veteran population
  • Best practices in granting credit for military experience
  • Best practices for veteran student admissions and retention
  • Strategies to support veteran transitions into and out of the academic environment (including curricular adaptation)

Keynote Speaker Ms Marian Smithey


VBSN Project Officer and Nurse Consultant for the Health and Human Services Administration (HRSA). Read her full bio here!

Ms. Smithey has been managing the Veterans’ Bachelor of Science in Nursing (VBSN) program since its inception in 2013, which presently consists of 31 programs across 17 states.  In her present role, she advocates for veterans by helping colleges of nursing manage their HRSA grants and by sharing program accomplishments with stakeholders and federal leaders.

Since joining HRSA, Ms. Smithey served as HRSA’s National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) Scholar, received numerous awards for job performance excellence, and earned several HRSA Honors Awards for her contributions while serving on the Veterans’ Advanced Medical Occupations, Affordable Care Act Outreach and Education, and Team-Based Care workgroups.

The pre-conference, included the Davenport military simulation with 17 participants. This ten-station interactive simulation immerses students, faculty and staff into the experiences of military students. Although the full experience of military service members cannot be fully represented, the DU Military Simulation has successfully developed an understanding of military students by shifting perspectives of staff and faculty through an interactive experience.

Feedback from attendees at the pre-conference stated:

  • "This expereience developed further understanding of the challenges veterans face after returning home."
  • "Inspired to do more civilian education to large audiences to become more sensitive through microaggressions. The trip home-- was a trip trying to get through all the obstacles."
  • "Approaches that there are better ways to connect with service members-- "I was caught off guard because [the experience] was totally unexpected-- very eye opening"." 
  • "It was eye opening to think about the other side of the VBSN student. There is much hidden that has such a powerful impact on them."
  • "Very intense emotionally, made me rethink obstacles veterans encounter."

Contact Dana Hill at with any questions.

View the full agenda here.


This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UF1HP26488 and title "Veterans to BSN Program" for $1,527,068, with 0% financed with nongovernmental sources. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.