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  1. 1. Barbara Link The College of Southern Maryland AFACCT ’14 Conference Prince George’s Community College Session 2.9. January 9, 2014 Understanding Issues Confronting Our Veteran Students
  2. 2. Facts  92% were exposed to a traumatic combat experience, such as being ambushed  95% were shot at  94.5% had to search for dead bodies  86.5% know someone who was seriously injured or killed  Symptoms of PTSD worsen over time, leading some veterans to drug or alcohol abuse, homelessness, suicide,
  3. 3. Facts  Three major types of injuries: ◦ Physical injuries (amputations, burns, orthopedic injuries) ◦ TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) ◦ (PTSD) Operational stress injuries and mental health injuries  Suicide rate among Iraq/Afghan War veterans is going up and may soon be higher than battlefield deaths.
  4. 4. Facts  30% of the veteran population has been diagnosed with PTSD as opposed to 3% of the general population  20% have spinal cord injuries  18% experienced serious wounds  6% suffered amputation – more than in the Vietnam War
  5. 5. Specific symptoms  From witnessing violence and death: ◦ Increased anger and aggression ◦ Anxiety ◦ Sleep disorders ◦ PTSD  Income disparity  Unemployment  Relationship issues  Aggressive behavior
  6. 6. General issues  What educators may see: ◦ Unpredicted attendance due to pain or other symptoms ◦ Scheduled absences due to VA appointments ◦ Medication-impaired performance in class
  7. 7. TBI  Blasts actually alter cells’ metabolism and result in cell death  Injury may be invisible to the eye  Pressure wave from blast may impact ears, lungs, brain, and spine  Approx. 43% of returning vets have been examined for TBI
  8. 8. Strategies for working with veterans with TBI  Coaching  Scheduling  Strategies including alarm clocks  Planners  Pagers  Scheduled breaks to prevent fatigue  Checklists  Memory aids, such as tape records and supportive phone calls  Adaptive technologies  Mentoring  Peer support
  9. 9. Important aids for veterans with TBI  Self-pacing  Gradual adjustment to college life  Family support  Small successes that can lay the groundwork for confidence and bigger successes (scaffolding).
  10. 10. PTSD  Person has experienced or witnessed events that involved: ◦ Death ◦ Serious injury to self to others  AND, the response included: ◦ Intense fear ◦ Helplessness ◦ Horror
  11. 11. PTSD  Experience is relived through ◦ Dreams ◦ Feelings ◦ Recurring thoughts  Efforts to avoid the trauma, include: ◦ Feelings of detachment ◦ Sense of shortened future ◦ Avoiding people, places, activities that recall the event
  12. 12. PTSD  Problems caused by PTSD: ◦ Suicidal thoughts ◦ Issues with trust ◦ Difficulty developing relationships (e.g., social relationships, marital difficulties) ◦ Unemployment ◦ Divorce ◦ Depression ◦ Domestic violence
  13. 13. PTSD ◦ Problems with cognitive skills ◦ Difficulty coping under pressure ◦ Problems with authority figures ◦ Problems with constructive feedback ◦ Inclination to engage in risky behaviors:  Substance abuse  Multiple sexual partners  Impulsive, angry, and aggressive outbursts  Average time to healing: 7 years
  14. 14. Obstacles to success at college  Self-disclosure ◦ Leaves the veteran vulnerable ◦ Behavior labeled as “macho” in combat can later discourage veterans from seeking help ◦ Maybe be embarrassing for veterans to admit TBI or PTSD – the invisible injuries ◦ Veterans may not want to discuss their experiences ◦ Veterans are not trying to cause problems for others
  15. 15. Other obstacles to success at college  Negative attitude toward veterans by faculty  Negative attitudes toward veterans by fellow students  Bureaucracy (government and college- level) that impedes financial aid  Problems with civilian authority  Denied academic credit for military training  Colleges fail to acknowledge personal
  16. 16. Other obstacles to success at college  Having to reapply to programs because of deployments  Losing scholarships because of deployments mid-semester  Skills learned in combat not applicable to college settings  Being told they must appear in person to resolve financial issues  Inability to sit for long periods of time  Forgetting how to study
  17. 17. How colleges can help  Collaboration at the highest levels of the college to provide: ◦ Career services ◦ Disability services ◦ Veteran-specific services ◦ Peer counseling ◦ Programs to educate faculty about challenges facing veterans
  18. 18. How colleges can help  Centralized office on all campuses for veterans ◦ Staffed by student veterans ◦ “Storehouse” of information for veterans  Scholarship information  Benefits forms  Help completing the forms  Referrals for counseling ◦ Opportunity for veterans to interact with other veterans  Have a veterans’ club  Sensitivity training for faculty and administrators
  19. 19. References Accommodating veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in the academic setting. (2010). Rehabilitation Education, 24(1 & 2), 43- 56. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database. Ackerman, R., DiRamio, D., & Garza Mitchell, R. L. (2009). Transition: Combat veterans as college students. New Directions for Student Services, (126), 5-14. Church, T. E. (2009). Returning veterans on campus with war related injuries and the long road back home. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 22(1), 43-52. Glover-Graf, N. M., Miller, E., & Freeman, S. (2010). Accommodating veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorde symptoms in the academic setting. Rehabilitation Education, 24(1 & 2), 43-56. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database. Summerlot, J., Green, S.-M., & Parker, D. (2009). Student veterans organizations. New Directions for Student Services, 126, 71-79. Zinger, L., & Cohen, A. (2010). Veterans returning from war into the classroom: How can colleges be better prepared to meet their needs. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 3(1), 39-51. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.