Statistics 1.6 million Troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since With the expansion of the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill (effective August 2011) veterans are enrolling in college/universities in record numbers. There are approximately 600 veterans currently enrolled at LCC.
Assets More self sufficient Leadership skills Learning experiences offer unique perspective Bring maturity to the classroom
Transition Combat/battlefield Camaraderie Intense Rigid Discipline Part of a team Clearly defined role Classroom Less intense Self discipline Individualized Doesnt know everyone Homework
The Battlemind Skills Battlemind skills – i.e. accountability, targeted aggression, emotional control. Help soldiers survive in combat. Often decorated w/ ribbons and medals for perfecting those skills. Often cause problems for veterans upon their return home. Accountability in combat perceived as over controlling behavior at home. Targeted aggression can be interpreted as inappropriate readiness for conflict. Tactical awareness as hyper-vigilance.
Challenges of Returning Veterans Used to direct orders and specific instructions Campus can feel daunting Interact with civilians Responsible for daily activities (time management) no chain of command no itinerary to follow Additional responsibilities – married, family, continues military duties Experiencing physical &/or mental after-effects
Challenges Services and processes in the college environment can be difficult to navigate. Change in daily structure -Survival in military depends upon discipline, obedience, and conformity, whereas education requires independent thinking; abstract reasoning. Campuses do not offer a hierarchy or unit commander – the different system structure could be source of frustration. Look for authority figures for guidance and support.
Challenges Reintegration and homecoming may be frustrating, confusing and often lengthy experience – will need to understand the differences between military and college culture Listen to their frustration and guide them towards the right resources. Intense feelings of stress and fear leads to panic and need to escape – knowing they have someone they can talk to about these feelings can ease the intensity of the situation. Campus veteran club or appointed liaison.
Physical & Emotional Implications Campus and classroom environment Homework/testing Environmental sounds - reminders of battle Sudden movements – fight or flight response Headaches Panic attacks Sleepless nights Easily Frustrated Lack of concentration
Types of Disabilities
Estimated 22% of all combat casualties – compared to 12% of Vietnam. Causes – blasts; motor vehicle accidents or combination of both; gunshot wounds. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Categories of TBI 1. Somatic – Headaches, tinnitus, insomnia, etc. 2. Cognitive – memory, attention and concentration difficulties 3. Emotional/behavioral – irritability, depression, anxiety, behavioral dyscontrol
11-20% of vets of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars experience PTSD symptoms Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD A severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. Follows an intense mental, emotional, and/or physical event that causes severe fear, helplessness or horror. Symptoms – nightmares (trauma is re-experienced), flashbacks, obsessive thoughts, avoidance of situations that remind individual of trauma, general increased anxiety and heightened startle response.
A time for Reflection
Classroom Challenges Unresolved emotions impacted by course content – personal writing assignments, videos and certain discussion topics. Discussions or papers may lead to a point of revelation – faculty will need to be prepared to spend additional time talking with student and/or referring student to appropriate resources. May find small group discussion and decision making process difficult – survival depends upon quick decisions. They may be frustrated by other students lack of commitment.
Guidelines/Strategies Announcement first day of class Use caution when thanking a veteran Allow self-selected seating Prefer back of classroom Back against the wall Allows for feeling of environmental control and will help with attending and learning course content Refrain from expressing opinions regarding military service or war in class Flexibility is appreciated if appointments with VA, benefit exams, etc. interfere with class Long wait for VA appointments Appointments may bring up past emotions/trauma
Guidelines (continued) Avoid asking veteran to share their experiences or disclose military opinions. Do not ask – did you kill anyone? – be prepared to deflect question if a student asks. – this is not something we bring up in class. Take responsibility to stop such questions instead of relying on the veteran to do so.
Guidelines/Strategies Observing problems/behaviors in the classroom – Talk with students privately Attempt to understand what is causing distress or impact on veterans life. Let them know you want to help them get the most from the class and their educational experience. Do not take on role of counselor – refer to counselor. If demonstrating behaviors of severe depression, significant problems or they are expressing suicidal thoughts – seek consultation with Counseling Services or possibly public safety.
Meeting the Needs of Veterans Doesnt mean drastic changes Being aware of issues and accommodating their needs can ease transition from military life to civilian classroom Result – positive educational experience for all students
Resources for Veteran Students: On-campus: Veteran Services (VS) – The Veterans Services staff is available to assist veteran students w/ questions they may have about their educational benefits. VS will also certify a veterans enrollment to the Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) once he/she has enrolled in courses included in one of the approximately 600 degree and transfer programs offered at LCC. The mission of VS is to provide the best possible services for veterans by making LCC a home away from home, and providing a safe learning environment that each alumnus will take w/ them in pursuit of a better future.
VS is responsible for providing services to veterans, active military personnel, spouses and dependents enrolled at the College. Some of these services include: Providing academic advising to veterans and dependents for certification, certifying enrollment for the Montgomery GI Bill, and Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program (VR&E) Advising veterans concerning the DVA requirements for maintaining satisfactory progress and assistance in keeping on track in their degree program. Counseling students by discussing the curriculum and approving course selection for compliance w/ DVA regulations directly related to the requirements specified for a major program that leads towards an Associate Degree
Resources Office of Disability Support Services (ODSS) – ODSS facilitates classroom accommodations (i.e. extra time on tests, use of a quiet room for testing, readers for tests, etc.) to students w/ documented disabilities. Please refer to the ODSS website for additional information: Counseling – Licensed professional counselors provide personal, career and academic success counseling to enrolled students. Community: Battle Creek Veteran Affairs (VA) Medical Center - Lansing VA Outpatient Clinic – The clinic provides primary medical care, mental health services, and laboratory services to veterans. Capital Area Center for Independent Living (CACIL) – CACIL provides independent living skills training, peer support, employment accommodation support, and pre-vocational services to returning veterans. These services are paid for by the VA and the recipient veteran must have a vocational rehabilitation evaluation plan w/ the VA. Please remember: The key variables for a veterans success on a college campus include relationships, social support, and having alternatives on campus when problems arise.
Information for this workshop was gathered from: Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Peter Schmidt, Psy. D. – Project Manager, Veterans Training Support Center at Edmonds Community College in Washington United States Department of Veteran Affairs SSG Kyle Hausmann-Stokes (US Army Ret) – Served 5 years in the Armys Airborne Infantry and as a Squad Leader/Convoy Commander during yearlong combat tour in Iraq. For his meritorious service and actions under fire, SSG Haussman-Stokes was awarded the Bronze Star.