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Challenges to Veterans in an Educational Setting

Challenges to Veterans in an Educational Setting

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Challenges to Veterans in an Educational Setting

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  1. Challenges to Veterans in an Educational Setting

  2. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder • Exposure to an event that causes intense horror, terror, or fear of death • After the event, the person: persistently re-experiences the event, attempts to avoid memory or images of the event, and suffers distress or impairment

  3. PTSDSymptoms • Sleep problems • Restlessness • Overly watchful or hyper vigilant • Social withdrawal/socially disconnected • Headaches or unexplained personality changes • Anger outbursts that are out of character • Distrust of authority • Depressed/anxious • Problems with memory, attention, follow through • Poor frustration tolerances

  4. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Concussive Blast Injury • Estimates of over 30% from Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom have TBI’s • Most resolved in 90 days • 60% of bomb blast victims have TBI • 80% with TBI also have PTSD • Many avoid screening and do not disclose • Improvised Explosive Devise (IED’s) create a wind of 800-2000mph

  5. TBI Common Symptoms • No one description of symptoms, depends on part of the brain injured • Fatigue • Headaches • Alertness/concentration • Lack of self-awareness • Inaccurate perceptions • Memory and learning deficits • Problem solving deficits

  6. TBI/PTSD Shared Symptoms • Sleep problems • Depression • Anger/irritability • Concentration • Memory • Planning • Attention • Poor frustration tolerance

  7. Common Issues for Students in the Campus Environment • Orientations have too many strangers and too much information at one time • Crowded waiting areas and issues with money increase stress levels • Need help with reintegration to college life/resources • Misperceptions from instructors based on students appearance of looking angry or not paying attention when the reality is that it was difficult to get out of bed due to the alarm clock triggering a panic attack, which lead to being late and thoughts of catastrophizing

  8. Campus Issues Cont. • Many do not seek help – they do not want to be seen as “weak” • Many do not want to draw attention to themselves (ex: disability accommodation letter, ask instructors for help directly) • Flashbacks in class – sweating, breathing hard, etc. • Feelings of panic walking around campus with too much stimuli/always feel on guard (ex: people walking around the corner of a building, someone hiding behind a tree?, etc.)

  9. Classroom Suggestions for Faculty and Staff • Be proactive in seeking out veterans and discussing their issues. Include information on class syllabi for student veterans, such as: “Veterans and active duty military personnel with special circumstances are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor.” • Understand veterans may miss class due to VA appointments which, if missed, can take 1 to 4 months to be rescheduled

  10. Classroom Suggestions Cont. • If a student comes to you with academic concerns, avoid language like “you need to pay more attention, etc.”. If failed a test, consider developing an individual study plan • When teaching on subjects of war/politics, discuss with student(s) in advance how it might effect them and develop alternatives accordingly • Be conscious of body language and anger levels when someone is playing the role of “devil’s advocate” with topics that might be sensitive to this population or taken as a direct attack on what they believe in. Avoid letting discussions escalate to anger

  11. Classroom Suggestions Cont. • Be patient for repetition. If student is struggling to comprehend the first time, let him/her know that you need to move on but will meet with him/her after class • Encourage and motivate! If the student believes you don’t care they will walk away. Tell them “don’t give up” • Hovering or standing above the student is perceived as a position of striking. Rather, get down to eye level and work directly with them

  12. Suggestions for Staff at Counters Providing Information • Provide concise and specific information with sequential steps and dates. Clarify by asking “does this make sense?” • Repetition, repetition, repetition • Listen carefully, be patient, confident, and consistent. Be conscious if your demeanor is being received as “you are wasting my time” • Let the student know that you will try to help them as best you can and if you don’t know what to do that you will find someone who does

  13. Staff at Counters Cont. • If student is getting frustrated, angry or displaying inappropriate behavior at the counter, maintain composure and treat them with respect even if they are not returning the favor • Do not create a perceived confrontation or ego struggle. Rather pacify and reassure. • When statements such as “there is nothing I can do about it” are made, it discourages them and may trigger PTSD symptoms. Offer alternatives such as speaking to a supervisor, counselor, or disability service coordinator

  14. Resources • Grants Pass Vet Center 211 SE 10th Street (541) 479-6912 • Jackson County Veteran’s Service Office 2860 State Street, Medford (541) 774-8214 • Josephine County Veteran’s Service Office 500 NW 6th Street Dept. 15, Grants Pass • RCC Veterans’ Education Benefits Nancy Higinbotham (541) 245-7738 Teri Smith (541) 956-7109 • Chris Grant, RCC Disability Services Disability related information, instructional recommendations, advocacy, accommodations Jackson County (541) 245-7537 Josephine County (541) 956-7337 • Tom Pike, RCC Counseling Department Personal counseling, coping strategies, stress reduction techniques Jackson County (541) 245-7552 Josephine County (541) 956-7558 • Veteran’s Club (Chris Sanders, President) Paul Fischer (club advisor) (541) 245-7529 • Veterans Day Rooms Riverside Campus, Building B Redwood Campus , Student Center