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Advising Veteran Students. Steve Johnson Academic Advisor/Instructor/Veteran Utah State University (USU) Logan, UT Steve.Johnson@usu.edu 2011 NACADA Region 10. Objectives. Opportunities Advising Student Veterans Advising related to veteran benefits ‏

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Advising Veteran Students


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    1. Advising Veteran Students Steve Johnson Academic Advisor/Instructor/Veteran Utah State University (USU) Logan, UT Steve.Johnson@usu.edu 2011 NACADA Region 10

    2. Objectives Opportunities Advising Student Veterans • Advising related to veteran benefits ‏ • Veteran advantages and challenges in higher education • Education-related PTSD and TBI issues • Helpful tips in advising veterans

    3. Why Work with Veterans • Personal Reasons • Family • Friends • Work • Professional Observations • Experiences • Advising vs. Counselling

    4. Who Are We Talking About? • 20% Are female • 80% Are male • 50-60% Are married • 50% Have children • 45% Under 30 - people of color • 95% Have high school diploma

    5. What is it like to be deployed?

    6. Challenges of Deployments • Harsh living conditions • 130 °F ~ • Unrelenting noise • Lack of privacy

    7. Challenges of Deployments • Separation from family • Problems related to communication • Long and multiple deployments • Prolonged exposure to stress hormones • Sexual harassment/military sexual trauma

    8. War-Zone Stress • Urban combat with no clear front line • Constant threat of being attacked • Ambiguous, unknown civilian threats • Challenge of fighting “fair” (ROE) • http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/ shows/company/view/3_hi.html

    9. Combat experiences (Mental Health Advisory Team V , 2008) • Being attacked/ambushed 52% • Receiving small arms fire 58% • IED/Booby trap exploded near you 49% • Seeing dead bodies/human remains 60% • Shooting/directing fire at the enemy 36% • Receiving artillery, rocket, mortar fire 78% • Knowing one seriously injured/killed 72% • Directly responsible for an enemy combatant death 13%

    10. Potential Psychological Challenges on Campus • PTSD - combat stress • Substance abuse/dependence • Depression/suicide • Anxiety • Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) • Reintegration issues

    11. Veteran Advantages • Learned self-discipline and to follow instructions • Maturity, act older than most same-age students • Value education, they have worked and paid for it - not valued as financial aid • Often have some other kind of financial support • Eagerness to get a good education. Feel to have lost time already • Doing something positive for their lives ‏

    12. Veteran Statistics 1.86 Million deployed since 9/11 - 288,952 veterans on US campuses Where current veterans attend: • 38% Community colleges • 36% 4-year public institutions • 19% For-profit inst. (online/distance)‏ • 6% Private institutions • 1% Undetermined (Top institution: U of Phoenix – online)

    13. Schools Veterans Choose (needs based) • Veterans are older, average age is 25 - 34 Attracted to schools with all age students • Prefer programs that allow them to balance work, studies, and family • Like programs that offer academic credit for military experience • Community colleges – help on benefits, provide academic support, help for physical and emotional disabilities • Major colleges providing veteran oriented services gain credibility among veterans

    14. Utah State University • About 450 veteran students • Veterans Resource and Affairs Office • Veteran/Non-traditional student orientation • Professional training for staff on PTSD? • Veterans Club and Mentorship program • Veteran work-study students • Counselling and advising veterans • Veteran Advisory Board • Veteran Celebration Days

    15. Helping Veterans • Growing drop-out rate. Veterans graduate at 1/10 rate of other students • Advising depends on benefit plan options • Majority of new people join Armed Services to get an education • Less than 10% of eligible veterans use all their educational assistance ‏ • About 6% of the new GI Bill use all entitled benefit hours • Student veteran concerns - save time and money

    16. GI Bill Monthly PayoutRates

    17. Post 9/11 GI Bill Percentage Payout Information

    18. Comparison

    19. UG Equivalent Credit Hours • 12 Credit Hrs = full time • 9 Credit Hrs = 3/4 time • 6 Credit Hrs = 1/2 time

    20. Exercise Brief Video Clip

    21. What is PTSD?(Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) Normal reactions to abnormally stressful events

    22. Symptoms of PTSD • Persistent re-experiencing of the event: • Intrusive recollections (flashbacks) • Nightmares • Avoidance of trauma-associated stimuli • Feeling of detachment • Avoid things that remind them • Persistent symptoms of increased arousal • Hyper-vigilance • Exaggerated startle response • Difficulty concentrating • Difficulty falling or staying sleep • Irritability

    23. Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (M-TBI) • The signature wound for the current wars • A main cause • Blasts • Damage occurs without impact to the head

    24. Consequences of M-TBI • Physical • Headache, dizziness, fatigue, noise/light intolerance, insomnia, sleep disturbance, balance/visual problems • Cognitive • Memory complaints, poor concentration • Emotional • Depression, anxiety, irritability, moodability

    25. Depression and Suicide More than twice as likely to commit suicide than non-vets (epidemiological data of 45 states in 2005) 18.7 to 20.8 per 100,000 compared to 8.9 for non-vets. Risk factors: Depression Substance abuse issues Prior psychiatric hospitalization Firearms may be more readily available

    26. Substance Abuse/Dependence • Self-medication • Anxiety/stress • Insomnia • Physical pain - narcotics • Most present problems at VA • Orthopedic injuries • Chronic back problems – body armor, gear (equipment) • 30% experience pain severe enough to limit daily activities

    27. What Can Advisors Do to Help? • Listen and validate • Be real and genuine • Refer to other campus resources, i.e. counseling centers, disability services, etc. • Consult with other professionals on campus

    28. Crisis Intervention Tips Have a response for dealing effectively with the Veteran student • Be brief, immediate and focused • Often requires advisor input • Allow them to voice their story and focus on their strengths • Focus on the concrete, and provide ongoing support and follow-up

    29. At Large Accommodations • One-stop center – advantages and disadvantages • Thorough veterans orientation program • Easily accessible resources for vets on main college website • Referral list for veteran services accessible to advisors and students • Opportunities to meet vets - Vet Club, Support Groups, Mtg Room, etc • Encourage students to create a facebook or my space page for vets

    30. Course Accommodations • Recommend multiple delivery in methods, assignments and materials • Provide Syllabus and PowerPoint presentations in advance • Provide opportunities to submit assign-ments for feedback prior to final grade • Communicate with students, instructors and counselling staff of disability issues and resources

    31. Accommodation Strategies • Implement veterans services at a campus level using student veteran employees • Coordination with all campus groups (health center, disabilities, counseling, etc) • Increase faculty and staff awareness of veteran issues and resources available • Use disability universal design principles to accommodate needs of veterans • Coordinate campus and community resources with veterans in mind

    32. What Courses Should Advisors Recommend • Depends on the benefit plan • Advising for online classes requires familiarity with benefit plan • New GI-Bill limits percentage of online classes • Smaller classes are preferable • Classes with practical applications are preferable initially

    33. What Can Advisors Do?‏ • Explore feelings toward war and soldiers. Treat veterans with the respect we have for other students • Make veterans feel welcomed, provide warm, friendly, connected service‏. • Be well informed about referrals for special needs • Be understanding, available and assist in their transition. Education is a process and a positive challenge • Know about benefits and what they must do if orders come before the end of term

    34. Considerations • Don’t seat them with their back to the door or with a closed door • Don’t discuss vet issues besides benefits unless they mention it • Ask if deployment is soon – explain what they have to do if deployed • If problems arise, calm student and avoid confrontational situation • Students may take a full load for financial reasons with a family and job. Discuss time management issues: - About college/job/family/friends/self - Bad grades hurt by losing time/money - Good grades require time and hard work

    35. Job Market Advantages • How military improved/reinforced excellent work qualities (i.e. dedicated & determined) • How experiences prepared them for the civilian work force (i.e. accountability & responsibility) • How to sell themselves to prospective employers (i.e. experiences applicable to job being sought) • How their experience(s) can credit/serve for salary purposes (i.e. teaching subjects, supervising others, etc.)

    36. Some Best Practices • University of South Florida http://www.veterans.usf.edu/ • Texas A&M Website for Veterans http://counseling.tamucc.edu/?n=Information.Veterans • University of Colorado at Boulder http://www.colorado.edu/studentaffairs/VA/ • University of Minnesota http://onestop.umn.edu/veterans/benefits/index.html

    37. Other Useful Websites • GI-Bill Information: http://gibill.va.gov/post-911/ • Military Education and Careers www.education.military.com/education-home • Forming a Campus Student Veterans Group www.studentveterans.org • Resource Directory – National, State, Local for Service Members and Families • www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov

    38. The only thing harder than being a Soldier.. Is loving one.  

    39. Thank You • Questions • Discussion Items