Running head: A SOLIDIERS STORY: TRANSITIONING FROM COMBAT TO CAMPUS
A SOLDIERS STORY: TRANSITIONING FROM COMBAT TO CAMPUS
Salem State University
Instructor: Dr. Lee A. Brossoit
A SOLDIERS STORY: TRANSITIONING FROM COMBAT TO CAMPUS 2
This paper will take an in depth look at the life of a soldier and how they transition from
the battle fields to the classroom our society. The Internet, and Peer Review Articles, I will show
the many challenges that military men and women facewhile making this difficult transition. I
will explore the history of the military, and share some views and opinions of a college instructor
and some personal opinions from several soldiers that served in the past. I will summarize the
articles and comment on certain points that I agree and disagree with and mention some
alternative approaches to use when dealing with this serious issue. My intent with this analysis
is to raise awareness regarding students transitioning from the military and entering institutions
of higher education , and how we as civilians in society can assist them with this change and
Keywords: Soldiers, PTSD (Post, Traumatic, Syndrome, Disorder) , Military Friendly
A SOLDIERS STORY: TRANSITIONING FROM COMBAT TO CAMPUS 3
UNITED STATES SOLDIERS CREED
I am an American Soldier.I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior
tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America
in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.
This is an example of a Soldiers Creed. It is one of the first items learned upon entrance
in the military. Soldiers are required to know this passage word for word after being given
proper time to learn it. A commanding officer can request a soldier to recite this piece at any
given time. If a soldier fails this task, he could be subjected to harsh punishments. The text in
thiscreed is very strong and powerful language, and once learned, a soldier lives and dies by it.
After researching this topic, and listening to Ted Serozynsky in class, I wondered how many
soldiers have the same feelings regarding the creed after they have been honorably discharged.
After researching the military and its many problems with soldiers transitioning to civilian life, I
wished I had more time to explore that aspect of a this broad discussion.
A SOLDIERS STORY: TRANSITIONING FROM COMBAT TO CAMPUS 4
The United States military is one of the largest in the world. It draws its manpower from
a large pool of paid volunteers. It consists of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast
Guard. All of the branches work together during operations and joint missions under the
authority of the Secretary of Defense with the exception of the Coast Guard. From the time of its
inception, the military has played a decisive role in the country’s history. Many United States
citizens have dedicated their lives and careers to the armed forces, and have taken advantage of
many opportunities afforded to them for being associated with our forces.
One advantage the military offers for years of service is education. According to
Wikipedia, the G.I. Bill was implemented in the United States to provide many returning
veterans funding for their education. This initiative’s purpose was to assist men and women with
the sudden change to a postwar economy by improving job skills and incomes. There are many
advantages with serving in the military, Career Training Retirement, Discipline Training, and
Physical Benefits, but what happens to soldiers making the transition from service to college?
What is it really like for an individual who decides to put the GI Bill Benefit to use. How does
that person’s life change? Is it an easy and smooth transition for them? How do they cope with
the challenges and obstacles that await them on the college campuses? What devises are put in
place to ensure success for them?
Margaret Bellafiore, an Adjunct Art Professor at Bridgewater State University located in
Bridgewater, Massachusetts discussed some of her experiences with former military soldiers who
transitioned from the battle field to the classroom.Bellafiore’s initial description was interesting
A SOLDIERS STORY: TRANSITIONING FROM COMBAT TO CAMPUS 5
because she talked about how she did not even notice them in her class for several years.
According to (Bellafiore 2012) the exact number of veterans enrolled in institutions of higher
education is hard to pin point, but there is data from the National Center for Veterans Analysis
that has suggested that there are nearly 924,000 veterans as “total education program
beneficiaries” as of 2011. This number also included dependents and survivors. Bellafiore took
an interest in this population of students and was intrigued by what they had to say about
entering the university. When she heard there stories she was amazed at what she discovered.
The soldiers experiences were unique according to Bellafiore, one veteran expalined how
he had to first reorient himself to society again, and how this made him feel like an outcast in his
own country. Another soldier described how intense the situation was for him going from being
in a combat situation to being in a classroom, and how it seemed to him that the other students in
the classroom were oblivious to the fact that there was a war going on. She was also astounded
after a soldier told her of the countless number of casualties of war, injuries, cases of PTSD,
depression, anxiety and suicides that have existed among our men and women returning home.
Bellafiore suggested many of her students admitted to having severe cases with alcohol and drug
addictions, and some really struggled with having physical anxiety with loud noises.
Although the soldiers were very cooperative with sharing their experiences with
professor Bellafiore, she was really interested in hearing more about their transition from the
military to college. According to (Bellafiore 2012) after receiving permission from the campus
review board, sheput together the following list of questions with the aid of a former Marine at
A SOLDIERS STORY: TRANSITIONING FROM COMBAT TO CAMPUS 6
* What were your first days on campus like after returning from deployment?
* What do you know now that you wished you had known then?
* What strategies would you recommend to other students returning from Iraq or Afghanistan?
* What is the hardest part of being a college student?
* Do you participate in college activities? Why or why not?
* Are you still in the military? Why or why not?
* What do you miss most about the military?
* What are you studying?
* What are your plans for the future?
According to (Bellafiore 2012) the soldier’s transition into college was a difficult task.
Many of them were confused about the proper procedures in terms of what they were supposed
to do next after leaving certain departments. One soldier stated, that “because I was an older
student, the staff person I was working with assumed that I already knew what my next step was,
when in fact I did not have a clue”. Another student commented on how difficult it was for him
to make friends in college, because even though he was close in age, because of his real life
experiences in the military, he felt he was so much more mature than the students on campus,
and how he felt that they had nothing in common to even talk about. Bellafiore also discovered
that soldiers are used to a certain routine every day and are used to taking orders, but when they
got to college, a lot of them were lost because they were waiting for someone to give them their
assignment for the day. In college it is almost the exact opposite than the military, students are
required to be proactive on campus and take initiatives. For a former military person that can be
a difficult transition.
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A female soldier commented on her experience of transitioning from the battle fields of
the military and entering the university, and claimed that “ her transition was not difficult, while
serving in the military, I was deployed to Iraq, and during my time there, I learned to speak
fluent Arabic, as a result of this I am studying International Studies and Languages and wants to
pursue a career in International Affairs. Bellafiore also discovered that many of the students she
interviewed were still active in the service and some of them had mixed emotions of their
experiences in the military. Many of her students felt the service was good and bad in terms of
development. A lot of them said that the service is good because it gets you better prepared for
life as an adult, but was bad because of the violence and bureaucracy that it involved.
Bellafiorefound new respect for veteran students in her experiment. Colleges need to be
responsive to the needs of returning veterans. If they are not, student veterans may drop. The
service members opportunity Colleges Consortium maintains a list of colleges that have "vet-
friendly" practices. If more institutions followed the model of Eastern Kentucky University,
which has received awards for its best practices for student veterans, they could help improve
veterans' enrollment and graduation rates (Bellafiore 2012).
According to Covert (2002) author of the article “Counseling Adult Learners for New
Careers: The motivation and Barriers Associated with Postsecondary Educational Participation
of Soldiers in Transition”, suggested that a soldier’s primary motivation to attend a college or a
university after leaving the military is because they are in pursuit of a degree so that they possess
the necessary credentials to establish themselves in a new career. Covert’s experiment was
A SOLDIERS STORY: TRANSITIONING FROM COMBAT TO CAMPUS 8
conducted between two groups of military men. Ninety – two former soldiers were divided into
two groups Group 1, were older men who had some college experience, Group 2, were younger
soldiers who had no prior collegiate experience. During his experiment, Covert discovered that
the groups shared these common factors in terms of making the transition from the military to
college. Both groups disclosed the lack of course offerings, and staff support as major barriers in
their attempts to transition and after serving in the forces, there was a lack of desire to remain
once enrolled at the college. In their opinions, the colleges did not do a good job at making them
feel welcomed and a part of the community.
Institutions of higher education need to do a better job at meeting the needs of military
students. Every college / university should have a plan in place to be Military Friendly. What
does it mean to be Military Friendly in higher education? Military Friendly is when a university
is sensitive to the needs of a soldier pursuing their degree, and dedicates itself to ensure that that
individual attending the college has a successful, inclusive experience. This includes having a
full time Veterans Benefits staff who serve as your connection to the rest of the university. A
college should provide their faculty and staff with professional development opportunities in
veteran’s awareness training. Billing accommodations for GI Bill recipients should be made
available. The university should provide specific attention to veterans during new student
orientations. Counseling Centers should be made available for returning soldiers.
In terms of Academic Services for soldiers entering college, an institution can provide
veterans only classes that foster critical skills and assist students in developing good studying
A SOLDIERS STORY: TRANSITIONING FROM COMBAT TO CAMPUS 9
techniques. A Division of Transfer Credits can be provided for soldiers wishing to transfer any
credits or any life skills that can possibly be translated into college credits. An Army and Air
Force ROTC program can be established for soldiers looking to begin or continue their military
To assist military men and women socially and professionally, an institution can provide
resume workshops, career fairs, recognition lunches, and military support groups to make them
feel a part of the college community. The transition can be a smooth interaction for both student
and college staff member if we keep this important ingredient in mind, according to (Wilson
2012) a soldier relates everything to a life mission, if you relate the college experience as part of
a life mission relating to the power of education, than you might engage that student quicker with
longer lasting results.
Finally, as individuals, I believe we need to continue to educate ourselves and others of
the dangers of unfair treatment and discrimination regarding military soldiers. Raising
awareness, educating and changing negative views when needed should be the plan moving
forward for the next several months. In terms of working in Student Affairs as a practitioner,
these components are vital to our success as individuals, and will be particularly important in
enhancing the institutions we represent.
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Bellafiore, M. (2012).From Combat to Campus. Journal of Academep 33-36 Sep-Oct 2012.
Retrieved from Academic Search Elite database.
Covert, C. (2002) Counseling Adult Learners for New Careers: The Motivations and Barriers
Associated with Postsecondary Educational Participation of Soldiers in Transition.
Peer Reviewed Journal, p23. Retrieved from ERIC host database.
Wilson, K. (2012) Understanding the Importance of Life Mission when Advising Soldiers.
New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, p 65-75. Retrieved from ERIC host
MICRO-AGGRESSIONS IMPACT ON SOCIETY 4
Diversity and issues of cross-cultures are central to most important conversations and
discussions that take place on many of your colleges / university campuses in the United States
today. Several departments within Student Affairs Divisions in a lot of institutions of higher
education are faced everyday with the challenge of not only making sure are in agreement with
their college’s mission statement, but also ensuring that they maintain and abide by important
policies, procedures and practices. The makeup of our student bodies are changing continually
by becoming more racially diverse, older, more international, and more openly lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender (LGBT). Diversity within higher education has taken on a new
meaning. In the past, when referring to diversity on a college campus, one might automatically
think of race involving a student of color, but on today’s campuses, a person cannot be quick to
jump to conclusions and instantly make any assumptions until they have heard all the facts,
because the parties involved could have a totally different issue unrelated to race.
A lot of experts would probably argue that technology and computers are the wave of the
future in higher education, but in my opinion, Multicultural Competence Awareness is a vital
component necessary in creating and maintaining a safe, inclusive, fair, and healthy environment
conducive for all faculty, staff, and students to be successful.
The history of Micro-aggressions can be traced as far back as when the first slaves were
brought to this country from Africa. According to (Davis 1989, p. 3), “Americans share a
common historical and cultural heritage in which racism has played and still plays a dominate
role. Because of this shared experience, we also inevitably share many ideas, attitudes and
beliefs that attach significance to an individual’s race and induce negative feelings and opinions
MICRO-AGGRESSIONS IMPACT ON SOCIETY 5
about nonwhites. To the extent that this cultural belief system has influenced all of us, we are all
racists. At the same time, most of us are unaware of our racism”.Also, coupled with that belief,
is the need to categorize different ethnic groups. This behavior has also aided in the
development of Micro-aggressions. Cognitive psychologist have suggested that humans have a
need to categorize people in order to make sense of their external experiences. Very similar to
many identity theories, Micro-aggressions are easily formed when external situations impact a
person and they internalize that experience and for an opinion of that person and ultimately that
In my opinion, the “Cycle of Socialization, developed by Bobbie Harro” can be closely
related to Micro-aggressions and how they are formed. In this particular theory, Harro describes
in detail the evolution of a person’s life. In the beginning, a person is first born into asituation
guilt free, with no information stored inside of them, virtually a blank slate. The first form of
socialization is your parents, teachers, relatives etc. Those individuals whether intentionally or
unintentionally start to program that person’s thought patterns with traditions, and values. Then
those values get reinforced as that person matures by other influential groups resulting in
internalization of those patterns, and then based on that information, an individual at some point
has to gain further knowledge and decide to take action against unfairness or do nothing and
promote status quo. (Wijeysinghe, Bailey 2001) Suggest that Racial Identities are results from
internal processes as an individual encounters external influences. I agree with this theory
because in many cases the first teachers of a new born baby are parents. Whatever that parent
was taught as a child from their parents is going to be passed down to the next generation.
MICRO-AGGRESSIONS IMPACT ON SOCIETY 6
I disagree with the theory of individuals behaving like their parents because they were
exposed to a family trait or habit at a young age, and by default they continue the cycle. Not
everything we inherit from our parents is positive. I believe that some of the cycles and trends
passed down from one generation to the next need to be broken. My father, who unfortunately is
an alcoholic, showed me the negative effects of alcoholism. As a result of watching him battle
with those demons over the years, and witnessing firsthand how it ruined many happy and joyous
family occasions, none of his kids including myself wanted anything to do with drinking alcohol.
My father picked up his drinking habit from my grandfather and his generations, and it was
passed down from one generation to the next, but the cycle was broken during my generation. I
believe through education and personal pain and struggle myself, my brother and my sister were
able to break that habit in our family. Similar to Harro’s cycle of Socialization, when we came
to the point in our lives where we had to make a decision on whether we would follow in the
footsteps of what we were taught as childrenand continue the trend or make a change, educate
ourselves on the negative effects of alcoholism and take a stand, we chose to make a change and
break the chain. I believe in regard to Micro-aggressions, every person at some point of their life
reaches a crossroad in terms of whether or not they are going to have the courage to speak out
against racial prejudices and discrimination or simply do nothing, and let the injustice continue.
As a practicing professional in higher education, I think the subject of Micro-aggressions
will have a major impact on me and my continued work. The reason why I feel this will be a
work in progress is because, prejudices, and race / group discriminations are here to stay. The
subject of dispelling Micro-aggressions is a tremendous under taking because you are trying to
convince another individual or individuals to give up some of their traditions and beliefs.
MICRO-AGGRESSIONS IMPACT ON SOCIETY 7
As much as we would like to think as higher education administrators, we can save the
world, the reality is, some people in this world are not willing to be saved change their
philosophies. In fact, some of the privileged people feel that society is fine just the way it is or
question why do we need change?Unfortunately, racism, is alive and well in this country.
Discrimination amongst cross-cultures has not changed much throughout the course of history. I
do believe that there has been progress in certain areas, but we still have a long way to go and
with the aid of media technology, we have constant reminders on a daily basis to let us know we
have to continue the fight for equality for all.
In terms of theoretical concepts covered throughout the course that is applicable to my
work in student affairs. I think Bailey’s racial identity development theory can be applied in
assisting me reach some conclusions. I agree with Bailey’s suggestion of in order to gain a better
understanding of individuals and as groups we must continue to examine how we interact with
one another. The subject of identity focuses on understanding self-awareness, the nature of
mankind, and inter-cultural similarities and differences. Once insight and knowledge is gained,
an individual can begin to understand the life and needs of others.
The identity I identify and associate with is the Black Identity. The development of
African Americans or Black people in this country is a unique experience. Black people were
brought to this country by force, and brutally enslaved by white people, for several hundreds of
years. Africans were stripped of their culture, traditions, and customs and forced to learn another
culture or suffer horrific consequences. The family structure was totally destroyed by separation,
and men in particular were not able to lead and guide their families as they wished, but were
forced to accept a lifestyle that was considered less than human.
MICRO-AGGRESSIONS IMPACT ON SOCIETY 8
This oppression and abuse had a devastating and crippling effect on the Black Race and culture.
The psychological and emotional toll of slavery still plagues the development of black people to
this day. In my opinion, the United States and several other social ethnic groups are still
suffering consciously from the inhuman mentality slavery has left behind. Because black people,
in my opinion have been oppressed the most, understanding their stages of development is
critical to interpreting other identity groups.
Another concept / theory I feel will be helpful in terms of student affairs work is Cass’s
Model of Homosexuality Identity. With the rising number of students regarding (LGBT) issues,
and new laws being introduced and passed within society today, I believe educating and
displaying compassion and acceptance for this culture is vital for our countries future success.
The issues surrounding Gays, Lesbians, Bi-sexual and Transgender people are unchartered
waters for the most part, and really need some professionals to further explore their world to rely
much needed information to the rest of society.
Issues regarding Micro-aggression sounds like an easy subject to discuss and
work within in terms of society and higher education, but the fact of the matter is that it is a very
difficult and complex area to work within, and one must possess a high level of skill, knowledge
and training when addressing this issue with students, faculty, staff and members of society. In
my opinion, as a professional, there is no such thing as too much training when working with a
sensitive topic as Micro-aggression. Economically, society is in a state of panic and individuals
are very desperate in their everyday situations, and as educators and administrators in the field of
education, we have to act very cautiously when interacting and working with various cultures on
issues of culture and fair play.
MICRO-AGGRESSIONS IMPACT ON SOCIETY 9
I agree with Reynolds, in our required reading, that this work must continue to be
supported by different agencies and professional national / local associations. Preparation and
training programs at various undergraduate and graduate level institutions must continue to
increase awareness regarding the issues surrounding multiculturalism. Finally, as individuals, I
believe that each person owes it to themselves and their fellow man to continue to educate
themselves and others of the dangers of unfair treatment and discrimination regarding
multiculturalism. Educating, raising awareness, and changing negative views when needed is
the only way society has a chance of overcoming this disease that currently plagues our nation.
MICRO-AGGRESSIONS IMPACT ON SOCIETY 10
Davis, P. (1988). Law of Micro-aggression Citation: 98 Yale L. J. 1988-1989
(pp. 1559-1578). Retrieved from EBSCO host database.
Reynolds , A. & Pope, R. Multicultural Competence in Student Affairs
(pp. 156-157). San Francisco, CA:
Wijeyesinghe, C., Jackson, B. (2001, 2012). New perspectives on racial identity
Development (pp. 11-25). New York, NY: