With our military out of Iraq, and funding for global military operations on the decline, thousands of newly discharged men and women are trying to figure out “What’s next?
” Most of our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors joined the military before their 21st birthday, and it’s often the only job they’ve ever held.
On top of the usual new student fears, they may also have a spouse or young family to care for and support.
They may have new cognitive difficulties or fears of being singled out because they fought in an unpopular war.
Issues like blast-related reading and hearing impairments, or feelings of intense discomfort when a well-meaning professor puts them on the spot to discuss his/her world views, or their struggles to manage intrusive memories of deployment while sitting still in a windowless classroom, can be incredibly challenging and fatiguing to these men and women.
Making it worse, they persistently resist asking for help to retain their self-belief of being “bullet-proof.” In my eight years of working with our military citizens, and having been one myself, I’ve found that when college faculty and staff understand a few core principles about student veterans, the experience is much more positive for everybody in the classroom.
And, once they can accept the adjustments, academic life often gets significantly easier.