Voices of student veterans


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Voices of student veterans

  1. 1. “Voices of Student-Veterans: Transitioning from Soldier to Student" August 1, 2013 NYC campus Event summary by Bernadette Mirro
  2. 2. Student Veteran Speakers O Four student Veterans spoke to the faculty on what the transition from military life to student life has been like for them. O Overwhelming grateful for the assistance provided to them in understanding their GI benefits and having specific Veteran Resources available to them on campus O Several speakers did not have this available at other institutions and this contributed to their unease and lack of success
  3. 3. Student Veteran Speakers O The most difficult part of transitioning is waking up with nowhere to report and no set tasks to accomplish since this is the opposite of the life they’ve known for years. O Overall Student Veterans miss the structure of the military and the camaraderie shared with other soldiers. O They acknowledge they often find it hard to concentrate in an academic setting.
  4. 4. Student Veteran Speakers O They find it hard to connect with students who have mundane issues that they allow to interfere with their schoolwork O Group work is particularly challenging. O They do not like to be “forced” to partner with students or work in teams b/c they find it difficult to connect with traditional students.
  5. 5. Student Veteran Speakers O To best support them they ask that Faculty be considerate of how they differ from other students and make accommodations – within reason – when necessary. O They want to be clear that they do not want special treatment because they are a capable workforce but on occasion circumstances may arise that are out of their control. O For example: training that may conflict with classroom time or weekend training that makes timely assignment completion difficult
  6. 6. Triggers O There was a lot of discussion on “triggers” for Veteran students and how to make sure they can be at ease when in the classroom O Do not use laser pointers – this often triggers memories of combat O Alarms can cause stress O Allow Veteran students to pick their seat – often they feel most comfortable in a position with views of the entrance and exit points
  7. 7. Suggested Reading Ten Things You Should Know About Today’s Veteran by Alison Lighthall 10. Student veterans are a highly diverse group – as diverse as America itself. 5. Female veterans suffer deeply, and almost always in silence. 9. Veterans do not see themselves as victims. Ever. 4. They often want to go back to the war zone. 8.They can feel very alone on campus. 3. Combat trauma is an injury, not a mental illness. 7.They are often unaware of their own mild traumatic brain injuries. 2. To succeed, veterans need your understanding, compassion and respect. 6. There are 3 things you should never say to a student veteran (but they still hear them everyday). 1. Student veterans are one of America’s greatest untapped human resources.
  8. 8. From Soldier to Student: Understanding PTSD Presented by Jane Hammerslough, LMFT Brooklyn Vet Center U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  9. 9. What is PTSD? • PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, can occur after someone experiences, sees, or hears about one or more highly disturbing events. • According to the American Psychiatric Association, between 50-60% of people experience some form of trauma during their lifetime. • Most people have stress-related reactions to trauma. When these responses continue and interfere with daily life, they may be PTSD.
  10. 10. PTSD Facts and Figures • At some point, about 8% of Americans will suffer from PTSD • About 30% of U.S. citizens who have PTSD were in combat • According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the rate of PTSD is more than 6% among OEF (Afghanistan) veterans and more than 12% among OIF (Iraq) veterans
  11. 11. Common Responses to Trauma Common responses to trauma may include feeling… • Tense, anxious, agitated or jumpy • Sadness, a sense of loss or alienation, not enjoying the things you once enjoyed, wanting to be alone • Guilt and shame, feeling responsible for what happened
  12. 12. Iraq Combat Experience • Most soldiers serving in combat in Iraq have experienced or witnessed a large number of traumatic events. These include… • More than 93% have been shot at • More than 89% have been attacked or ambushed • More than 77% shot or directed fire
  13. 13. Iraq Combat Experience, cont. • Nearly half report being responsible for the death of an enemy combatant or have seen a corpse or human remains • More than 86% have known someone killed in action or seriously injured • More than two-thirds of those serving in Iraq reported seeing ill or injured civilians that they were unable to help
  14. 14. Common Responses to Trauma • Anger and irritability, having less patience, lashing out, over-reacting to other people or situations • Behavior changes, such as neglecting health, avoiding certain people or situations, drinking or using drugs • These are temporary feelings or behaviors in response to traumatic experiences
  15. 15. How PTSD is Different: Four Symptoms • Re-living or re-experiencing the event --Flashbacks: Vivid memories return, same feelings of fear, horror –Can be “triggered” by sounds, smells, seeing something --Can happen while awake or as a recurring nightmare
  16. 16. PTSD Symptoms, cont. • Avoiding situations, people, or places that may be linked to traumatic events. --Crowds, loud places, feeling “exposed” or unable to escape --Avoiding thinking or talking about the event, or anything that might bring back feelings associated with it
  17. 17. PTSD Symptoms, cont. • Feeling Numb/Avoidance --Difficulty remembering or talking about trauma --Difficulty experiencing emotions, even positive or loving feelings towards others --Avoiding engaging with/having relationships other people --No interest in activities that used to be enjoyable, like spending time with family and friends
  18. 18. PTSD Symptoms, cont. • Feeling Keyed Up (also called hyperarousal) --Feeling jittery, or always on the alert and on the lookout for danger (hypervigilance) --Easily startled by noise --Sudden, angry outbursts or irritability --Desire to find exits, have your back to a wall in a classroom, seek safety --Insomnia, trouble concentrating
  19. 19. Military Sexual Trauma (MST) • MST refers to traumatic events involving experiences of sexual assault or repeated, threatening acts of sexual harassment that occur while a person is in military training or serving on active military duty. • Affects about 20% of female and 1% of male veterans; 30% of those who experience MST develop PTSD symptoms
  20. 20. Other Issues Related to PTSD and MST • Troubles beginning, focusing on and finishing assignments • Problems relating to or tolerating others • Feelings of guilt, shame, despair, or hopelessness • Depression, anxiety, and alcohol or drug use may occur at the same time as PTSD
  21. 21. PTSD and MST: Supporting Students Upwards of 20% of returning Veterans may be experiencing PTSD or MST. Support these students and help them heal by…. • Understanding possible “triggers” (fire alarms, laser pointers, experiences in large groups) • Respecting desire for seating and other arrangements in classroom • Accommodating issues related to working in groups, with non-Vets, etc.
  22. 22. PTSD and MST: Supporting Students • Being sensitive to/aware of possible sleep deprivation (nightmares) and possible concentration problems • Understanding hierarchical/ideological/social differences between military and college experiences, and possible culture shock and patience with adjustment to new setting
  23. 23. What does the Vet Center offer? • A safe place to talk • Confidentiality • Diverse Staff – Veteran and Civilian • Flexible hours • Easily accessible community setting
  24. 24. Vet Center Services A full range of services to combat veterans, including…. • Individual Counseling • Group Counseling • Posttraumatic Stress Counseling (PTSD) • Sexual Trauma Counseling (MST) • Couples and Family Counseling • Bereavement Counseling • Drug and Alcohol Counseling
  25. 25. Vet Center Services, cont. Liaison to VA and community resources for combat and non-combat Vets to provide… Benefits Assistance, incl. GI Bill benefits, service- connected disability claims, housing and homeless services, VA mortgages, Military records, plus employment, legal, and many other services