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Schools train teachers, reach out to vets to help them acclimate

Mar. 30, 2011 - 02:15PM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 30, 2011 - 02:15PM  |  
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Mental health experts agree that education of veterans and educators is key to helping vets succeed on campus. While the sheer number of colleges and universities means change has been slow, positive examples abound in higher education:

* At the University of Iowa, Tamara Woods, the psychology doctoral student who helped start a three-credit, veterans-only course called "Life After War: Post-Deployment Issues," has also begun working with academic advisers to educate them about the effects of combat and post-traumatic stress disorder on student vets.

* In Washington state, psychologist Peter Schmidt has trained faculty and staff at about 80 schools through the state VA office's Veteran-Friendly Campus program. He helps faculty and staff to better understand military culture, and how best to adapt each campus environment to meet the needs of the returning combat veteran.

* The Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran program at Cleveland State University assists veterans transitioning to an academic environment by providing such services as veterans-only classes, academic advising, enrollment assistance and career counseling.

* At Citrus College in Glendora, Calif., a social network connects student vets to each other, and the Boots to Books course teaches interpersonal skills, techniques for dealing with transition issues and stress management.

Of course, a school can still be responsive to the needs of student veterans without a formal program in place. Some things to look for:

* Does the school have an active veterans club/group?

* Are veterans assigned mentors or veterans counselors?

* Is there a separate veterans office one that deals with more than just processing education benefits paperwork?

* Has the school's faculty and staff been trained to identify symptoms or signs of mental health issues like depression or PTSD?

* Does the school offer any special classes that are veterans-only and/or that specifically address veterans issues?

* Are there any veterans monuments or pro-veteran posters or signs on campus?

Answers by RallyPoint

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