Presenters: Susan E. Rexroth MA, NCC Assistant Director of Disability Resources & Services Jill Wilschke, LMFT/Therapist & Veteran Mental Health Specialist Understanding the Unique Challenges of our Veteran Students: Wounded Warrior or Warrior in Transition?
NEEDS OF RETURNING VETERANS We will examine the following: Trends Profile of returning veterans Types of disabilities Misconceptions
Needs of Returning Vets It is estimated that higher education will beginning school by 80% when the military reduction begins.
Recent Reporting According to VA May 2012 Huffington Post Article by Marilyn Marchione : More than 1600 have lost a limb; many others lost fingers or toes. At least 156 are blind, and thousands of others have impaired vision. More than 177,000 have hearing loss, and more than 350,000 report tinnitus noise or ringing in the ears. Thousands are disfigured one quarter of battlefield injuries included wounds to the face or jaw, one study found.
TRENDS According to Veterans Affairs, the number of disabled vets has increased 25% since 2001. Many other organizations feel that number is low. Recent research is showing 44%. The American Legion say that vets returning from Iraq/Afghanistan wars are suffering from more severe injuries than the type of injuries incurred from previous wars. In 2008, the Dept. of Defense reported that 181,000 vets are collecting disability.
Profile of Veterans at CU Denver Typical college age is between 18 23. Veteran students fall outside this range with half being married and the other half with children. OVSS reports: 160 new students every semester 1140 active students generally Average 800 students every semester
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT STUDENT VETERANS 1). Student veterans are highly diverse group. better or for worse. 3). Veterans do not see themselves as victims. Ever. 4). Veterans can feel very alone on campus.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT STUDENT VETERANS continued 5). There are three things you should never say to a student veteran (but they still hear them frequently). 6). Female veterans suffer deeply, and almost always in silence. 7). They often want to go back to the war zone.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT 8). Combat trauma is an injury, not a mental illness. 9). To succeed, veterans need your understanding, compassion and respect. greatest untapped human resources.
Addressing the Needs Stressors that may be unique to veterans on campus: Educational bureaucracy Financial aid and VA educational benefits can be consuming and lengthy process VA benefits can take up to 10 12 weeks to process Veteran students may not realize that going under a certain course load (under 7 credits) can jeopardize their GI Bill funding
Stressors Stressors that may be unique to veterans on campus: Veterans may attempt too many credits to make up for lost time Often reluctant to ask for help or seek on campus counseling Cannot relate to cohort in classroom Frustration or anger at professors/students who vocalize anti war sentiments
Misconceptions Not all veterans have been in combat Not all have served in Iraq/Afghanistan Not all have PTSD
TYPES OF CONDITIONS IMPACTING STUDENT VETERANS PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Major Depression, and Anxiety are estimated to affect 1 in 6 veterans. Mild to moderate TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) Hearing loss Substance Abuse
PTSD Symptoms can include: Re experiencing symptoms: Flashbacks reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating. Bad dreams. ... Avoidance symptoms: Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience. Feeling emotionally numb. ... Hyperarousal symptoms: Being easily startled.
Possible Accommodations: Extended time for exams in reduced distraction environment Extensions on assignment due dates Flexibility with attendance Priority seating (usually near an exit) Note taking/smart pens Priority registration Service Animal
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Some vets never report a head injury to the unit or others, even if they are experiencing headaches, blurry vision, etc. because many times other around them were killed with the blast. Common symptoms: Quick to frustration/anger Black and white thinking Forgetful Short term memory loss
Possible accommodations: Extended time for tests in a reduced distraction environment Am vs. PM Most seem to function better earlier in the day Low lighting sometimes fluorescent lighting causes headaches or eye fatigue Sometimes if a test is split in 2 parts with a 15 20 minute break between portions can help Might need less class load 9 credits instead of 12
Text books in alternate format Recording the class Smart pen Note taking Time management help Organizational help Learning Resource Center
Hearing Impairments Growing concern and very much underreported led to hearing loss and tinnitus Many vets who others think of as non communicative simply cannot hear correctly Hearing is not tested when leaving the military unless requested by veteran
Hearing Impairments Possible Accommodations: FM systems Note taking/Smart Pens Priority Seating
Substance Abuse According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse One in six reported symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These disorders are strongly associated with substance abuse and dependence, as are other problems experienced by returning military personnel, including sleep disturbances, traumatic brain injury, and violence in relationships.
Substance Abuse continued According to a report of veterans in 2004 2006, a quarter of 18 to 25 year old veterans met criteria for a past year substance use disorder, which is more than double the rate of veterans aged 26 54 and five times the rate of veterans 55 or older.
Physical Mobility Issues Many times vets are very self reliant Mobility difficulties can impact veterans: Injuries to legs or back Arthritis On going treatments/surgeries impacting mobility We refer to Campus Accessibility Shuttle and provide access sticker for student ID
Resources www.brainline.org http://www.drugabuse.gov/related topics/substance abuse in military life VA May 2012, Huffington Post Article by Marilyn Marchione Student Veteran by Alison Lighthall