For veterans who have been deployed, coming home and transitioning to civilian and college life can be difficult. College culture is much different than military culture. To complicate matters, some veterans might struggle with emotional issues as a result of their service or the difficulty of the transition back. As part of the campus community, we can do a lot to help make this a smoother transition for veterans.
You might be unsure about how to help, or feel uncomfortable about how to approach a veteran. It's not surprising that it's sometimes easier for veterans to talk to each other than to civilians who may not fully understand their experiences. But on campus, it's important that civilians and veterans can communicate as members of the same college community. Below are some tips from the University of Minnesota for respectful communication:
How to welcome veterans to campus:
- Welcome them home
- Express your appreciation of their service
- Offer to help with their transition to (or back to) campus
- Support with patience and listening
- Understand that the transition home is a process and can take time
Good ways to start a conversation:
- What was your job and where did you go while in the military? (Remember: while many do, not all veterans serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.)
- How are you and your family doing?
Topics to avoid when speaking with a veteran:
- Pressuring a veteran regarding specifics about their service they choose not to share with you
- Minimizing the challenges a veteran might face
- Making assumptions about any veteran's political or foreign policy views
- Singling out a veteran without prior approval (let them choose who they tell about their distinction as a student veteran)
- Did you kill anyone?
- Did you see anyone die?
- Are you glad that you're back?
- Do you have to go back?
- Do you think we are winning over there? Is it all worth it?
Remember, even when approached respectfully, student veterans might not want to talk about their deployment, which is completely understandable. Reaching out is still important, and you'll most likely find there are many other things to discuss.
From ULifeline, a project of the Jed Foundation.Full Article
Emotional Issues Some Veterans Face
It is estimated that 25 to 30 percent of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan report symptoms of a mental disorder or some cognitive difficulties. These "hidden injuries of war" are not surprising given the trauma of serving in a combat zone. It is important that veterans struggling with emotional health issues get the support they need as un-addressed problems can lead to serious consequences like substance abuse or suicide.
Veterans who have experienced trauma in war and combat might suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and suicidal thoughts. It is important to know the warning signs of these conditions and, if there's a problem, how to get involved in order to help your friend or family member cope and begin to get well.
With the right support and treatment, veterans dealing with mental health issues can still have a smooth transition and a healthy future.
From ULifeline, a project of the Jed Foundation.
- LPC Veterans First Program
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America: Founded in 2004, this non-profit organization is dedicated to helping Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families. Members have access to a social network, connect with other veterans, and get information on local events. Source of extensive information, resources, and a blog.
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs: Provides veterans with benefits and services. Their Web site includes a wealth of information such as a directory of VAs across the U.S., help for PTSD, descriptions of VA benefits and facts on healthcare. Also includes a blog, which features relevant news and updates. Here, you can find out the specifics about the post 9/11 GI Bill (and other benefits), apply for it and learn about other education services.
- SAMHSA Veteran Resources: The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration has a list of resources for veterans and families, including links on mental health and trauma.
- Disabled American Veterans: Non-profit organization that offers community outreach services and advocacy for disabled veterans.
- Vets4Vets: A peer support organization that helps Iraq and Afghanistan veterans heal from psychological and emotional issues stemming from service and war by providing free weekend workshops. They also have a list of veteran resources.
- US Vets: Provides support service for veterans and their families, including housing, counseling, and career development.
- Military Pathways: Offers information and support on mental health issues for veterans, active military, and their families, including screening for PTSD, depression, and alcohol abuse.
- The American Institute of Stress: Information on combat-related stress and post-traumatic stress disorder, resource for veterans and their families.
General Mental Health Resources
The menu on the right will link you to information on specific mental health topics. -->
Below are additional links to excellent websites for mental health information:
- Go Ask Alice: Website operated by Columbia University to answer the questions of college students on issues related to physical health, mental health, and sexuality.
- Half Of Us: This engaging youth-oriented site uses video stories of students and high-profile artists to increase awareness about mental health issues and the importance of getting help.
- Healthyminds.org: This website of the American Psychiatric Association offers a broad array of information on topics related to mental health.
- Helpguide: Website operated by a non-profit organization offers information and resources on a broad range of mental health topics.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): An advocacy group for people living with mental illness and their loved ones. Good source of information and resources on mental health topics.
- ReachOut.com: An information and support service using evidence based principles and technology to help teens and young adults facing tough times and struggling with mental health issues.
- ULifeLine.org: An online resource for college students with information about protecting your emotional health and what to do if you or friends are struggling with mental health issues.
- Student Health 101