Dynamics of Disability Identity within the Student Veteran Community. Amanda Kraus, Ph. D. AHEAD 2011. Disabled Veterans Reintegration and Education Project. Goal to more authentically understand how disabled veterans experience higher education
Amanda Kraus, Ph. D.
Conceptualizing disability identity
“Congratulations! You have completed your Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. Therefore, I am declaring that you are rehabilitated.”
cultivate identity as
“Well, I got PTSD. They gave me that last year or so. Back and knees and just basic joint stuff. Well, I got actually—not too long ago I got diagnosed with a mild TBI just from getting tossed around the back of a truck, hit with a couple explosions, but that’s about it. No puncture wounds or gun shots or anything like that.”
Disability depends on context
The VA says that if it’s not documented, it never really happened. Part of the problem with my job field is that most of the corpsman never got documented. The few things that I did have problems with kind of got overlooked and it wasn’t until the end that they wanted it. I went to physical therapy for my elbow, which the VA has rated me at zero percent for as well as my ankles. I’m rated at zero percent. It can increase. I just have to find more documentation to support it. I’m working on that.
Fighting to get a VA Rating
It’s like, they were trying to keep me in the Service. as long as possible... Because like when I was in, if you, if you had any type of disability or any king of, anything wrong with you like if you were missing your arm or your hand or something like that, you were as good as gone… disability did not equal the military. And now it’s like they realize that having a disability doesn’t prevent you from using your brain. You don’t necessarily have to be doing pull-ups and pushups and stuff to be worth something.
Military models of disability
Yeah it’s like a whole process. They look through your medical records, and they evaluate how disabled you are. And it sounds bizarre, but you are like hoping for a good disability rating. But it’s, you know, I don’t feel like 60 percent disabled.
Measuring self with VA ratings
"I guess in a way I don’t consider myself disabled. I don’t know. Maybe that’s what they’re thinking. In another sense I do consider myself disabled. I want to represent disabled community and it’s not so general and not so broad. There are hidden disabilities that you don’t see. I’m invested in that term because I want to represent it positively and promote that there is a way to do it with grace and values and just to kind of build awareness. I imagine that there are some that are fighting to kind of normalize themselves.”
Normalizing disability relevant to identity