Six years in, the Vassar Veterans Posse program has had a profound impact on the lives of student-veterans—and on the College itself.
As the College prepares to welcome its seventh Vassar Veterans Posse when the class of 2023 arrives on campus later this summer, the pioneering creation of the program has become part of Vassar lore, and rightfully so. Vassar was the first institution of higher education in the nation to partner with the Posse Foundation to recruit a group of veterans from America’s armed forces who would become part of each year’s incoming class.
Former Dean of Studies Benjamin Lotto, who has been closely involved with the program for the past six years, says perhaps the most salient aspect of the program is simply that “everybody here knows about it. Vassar students, as opposed to students at most of our peer institutions, know that veterans are an integral part of the American experience. If you want to have a truly diverse campus, you must have veterans.”
True enough. At the same time, being a member of the Vassar Veterans Posse is a complex, lived experience for each of the students involved, some of whom are now Vassar alumnae/i. The stories of those interviewed for this series are far from homogeneous; as one student-veteran notes, “We’re all friends in the Posse, but we differ from each other just as much as the student body.” But there are commonalities. To a person, they express gratitude for the opportunity they have earned, and they express love for Vassar. They are also honest about the distinct challenges, and joys, of the paths they have taken.