Prior research was conducted to examine student veterans returning from recent combat theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan and their re-enrollment in higher education. Rumann & Hamrick, (2010) found that numerous student veterans described having elevated levels of distress after returning home from combat deployment and attempting to transition back into a class environment.
Numerous non-traditional students have a tendency of not differentiating between their student transition from their civilian transition (Rumann & Hamrick, 2010). It is important to consider all major factors in order to recognize Student Veterans transitional occurrences in order to prevent mistaking the dissimilarities in the viewpoint of each student veteran. People who assist this population should contemplate the likelihoods of the form of transition each one may be working through.
Most student veterans feel uncomfortable revealing their military status and voiced their apprehensions about the opinions of others who have never served in the Armed Forces (Rumann & Hamrick, 2010). Failure to convey their identity as a result of discrimination should present a big problem for a college or university campus. Numerous student veterans are enrolling in higher learning and are also experiencing new social connections. It is vital that educators and academic advisors recognize how these effects impact their college or university experience.
Characteristics of Student Veterans
Unsurprisingly, several fully enveloping approach to transforming a simple pro veteran organization into a pro-veteran organization in preparation requires an acceptance of student veterans. Different from traditional students, student veterans may display an assorted of characteristic that if at all possible can be utilized to assist them with their academic accomplishments. Student veterans are normally older than traditional students, have numerous years of work experience, and specialize in a specific employment field which they learned through military training. For this reason, numerous veterans seeking higher education, perceive college as an organization that can provide them with a host of career development or growth. As a result, many student veterans miscalculate the hardships of transitioning from military to academic lifestyle. It would appear that student veterans have the upper hand for academic achievement, the measurements obtained pertaining to their retention rates would reveal otherwise.
A year after the implementation of the Post-911 GI Bill, pessimist suggested that student veterans dropout rate reached 88%, (wood, 2012). Prior research places the student veterans graduation rate roughly at 52%. This rate is significantly better, but still well under the number of traditional student graduates, which is alarming (Zoroya, 2014). Regardless of the essential morals and values such as responsibility or accountability acquired through military service, Student veterans may regularly face stressful barriers linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other family or related issues. Maybe the most staggering culture shock linked with military to-academic transitions is when successful student veterans feel detached or bewildered upon their arrival on the college campus.
Student Veterans’ Challenges in Higher Education
Student veterans may be suffering from numerous physical and emotional injuries prior to entering the collegiate environment. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is an anxiety disorder affecting many student veterans after they have experienced, suffered or observed a traumatic event while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces (Bellafiore, 2012; DiRamio & Jarvis, 2011; Hoge, 2010). Signs of PTSD include feelings of irritated, occasional sadness, isolation, and avoidance of specific reminders of the trauma (Baker et al., 2009). According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (2012), roughly 21-26% of servicemen and servicewomen in the Armed Forces will develop PTSD during their military service, but Baker et al. (2009) discovered that only 10-15% of military personnel self-reported their symptoms of PTSD. Since PTSD is one of the most difficult disorders affecting veterans, it is often overlooked or mistaken for other mental health disorders such as psychosocial and behavioral problems (Baker et al., 2009).
Nearly thirty-six percent of student veterans who are diagnosed with PTSD also experience problems associated with alcohol and drug addiction, violent flare-ups or outbursts, sleep deficiency, paranoia, and social isolation (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2012). Another difficult combat-related disorder known for affecting numerous servicemen and servicewomen in the Armed Forces is Traumatic brain injury (TBI), (Baker et al., 2009). This disorder is known for causing a disruption of brain functions as a result of serious injury. Numerous veterans endure all forms of bodily, developmental, societal, and cognitive effects of this injury. et al. (2009) disclosed that 44% of Armed Forces members are diagnosed with TBI and may not recuperate fully from this injury. The gravity of the injury influences the long-term or short-term side effects and other possible indicators. TBI related incidents increased from 13, 456 injuries in 2011 to 17, 452 injuries in 2012 (Congressional Research Service, 2012). Alcoholism and drug abuse are other factors that veterans may experience while serving in the Armed Forces (Department of Defense, 2012).
Prior studies have shown that researchers investigated the importance of what has occurred in the lives of veterans after experiencing a traumatic event and the strains they may have faced during their reintegration phase. It is imperative to comment on the importance placed on the strains student veterans have such as “ difficulty with reasoning skills, perceptiveness, attentiveness/recollection, difficulty coping under pressure, difficulty interrelating with others, responding properly to social indications, difficulties with authority figures, difficulties accepting constructive feedback, and random absenteeism” (Church, 2009).
Student veterans need to identify probable difficulties that they may experience during reintegration. When surveying a traumatic event it is vital to perceive that in the instance of the veterans members, traumatic symptoms will normally come from their military experience. In spite of this, the symptoms experienced during a military traumatic event may have comparable stressors as those experienced during a violent relationship (Campbell, 2002) or residing in an unsafe community (Ross & Mirowsky, 2001).
Veterans exposed to severe physical environments or anxiety as a result of a nearly fatal experience is something that civilians may not experience often, but veterans may experience these situations on a daily or monthly basis (Basham, 2008). As student veteran’s return to an educational setting, especially as a full time, on grounds student, locating resources for reintegration is a vital part of the veteran student’s achievement. At this time, there is no national-level systematic determination in higher education to support student veterans, but prior research shows that newly enrolled student veteran who connect with other veterans on campus have a simpler transitioning to university life (DiRamio et al, 2008).