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DISABILITY POLITICS AND VETERANS WITH DISABILITIES Amanda Kraus, Ph. D., and Nick Rattray, Doctoral Candidate The University of Arizona.

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Presentation on theme: "DISABILITY POLITICS AND VETERANS WITH DISABILITIES Amanda Kraus, Ph. D., and Nick Rattray, Doctoral Candidate The University of Arizona."— Presentation transcript:

1 DISABILITY POLITICS AND VETERANS WITH DISABILITIES Amanda Kraus, Ph. D., and Nick Rattray, Doctoral Candidate The University of Arizona

2 Abstract  Using data from the Disabled Veterans Reintegration and Education Project at the University of Arizona, this presentation will discuss how experiences of disability are influenced by military service, the intersections of veteran and disability identity, and associated developmental processes. Implications for the larger disability community and higher education will be explored.

3 University of Arizona trends

4 Disabled Veterans Reintegration and Education Project  Goal to more authentically understand how disabled veterans experience higher education  Historical shifts in perceptions of veterans and disabled veterans  Vietnam: 3 to 1 injury to casualty  OEF/OIF: 16 to 1 injury to casualty (under-reported)  $4-6 billion in mental health costs – VA top priority  Produce a model with recommendations on strategies that contribute to the success of veterans on campus  Four year Congressionally-directed grant

5 Disabled Veterans Reintegration and Education Project  Research  Participatory-action research and mixed qualitative methodology  35 individual, semi-structured interviews  Outreach  Professionals’ Roundtable  Sports and Wellness Camp  Liaise with Student Vets Center and campus and community and campus and community  Academic initiatives  SERV  Online faculty resources  Direct Services  DRC accommodations  Healing Touch

6 Impact of DVRE Initiative Initiative Total Sports and Wellness Camp Individual interviewsn/a Healing Touchn/a DRC Accommodations SERV classes Student Veterans Center Student Veterans of America club Annual Total

7 Finest of the Finest: Injured in Service “Veterans are the finest citizens, and disabled veterans are the finest of the finest” or two times a citizen: ‘military citizenship,’ a new form of identity” (Messinger, 2008).

8  Hierarchy of disability and service  Insiders ascribe value to how one becomes injured or disabled  VA ratings  Determine benefits, may not match personal identification Identity Formation: Disabled student veterans

9 Identity quotes  “I’ve been avoiding the Disability Resource Center (DRC) like it was the plague”  “Well, I got PTSD. They gave me that last year or so. Back and knees and just basic joint stuff. Well, I got actually—not too long ago I got diagnosed with a mild TBI just from getting tossed around the back of a truck, hit with a couple explosions, but that’s about it. No puncture wounds or gun shots or anything like that.”

10 Identity quotes  “Do you identify as a person with a disability?” I’m finding it hard to identify that way. I’m just now–you saw me in the DRC, and I’m just now finally saying, “Yeah, I can’t learn as well as I used to be able to,” so it’s like–I guess yes-ish, I guess they’re getting me.”

11 Deceased Combat-related Official recognition (i.e. Purple Heart) Service-connected Combat Theatre Visible injuries or disabilities Living Non-combat-related Unrecognized Non-Service-related (e.g. skiing accident) Stateside or other non-combat location Invisible (including physical, learning disabilities, psychological, TBIs )

12 Resources for veterans and non- veterans  Resource distribution  Rehabilitation and products that other disabled people cannot access, do not deserve  Disability disqualifies from military service  Creates divide in vets community between visible/invisible, physical/non-physical, tangible/intangible

13 Implications  Expand definition of disability and reframe ideas around access  Multiple disabilities versus silos  Rehabilitation shapes disability identity development  VA Goal: disability can be fixed Back to service Better than before  Reality: a new normal

14 Implications  Coalitional politics  Military citizenship may continue to separate veterans from civilian, disability community  Primary identity: disabled, student, veteran  Athletics as way to negotiate community membership  Ex: Sports Camps  What are the challenges associated with disabled vets serving as change agents for broader disability rights?

15 Congratulations! You’ve been rehabilitated! “Congratulations! You have completed your Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. Therefore, I am declaring that you are rehabilitated.”


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