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Military Alliance Program

Military Alliance Program

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Military Alliance Program

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  1. Military Alliance Program “MAP” An initiative to support student veterans

  2. Why? • VCU • “Green Zone” project • Reduce confusion and stigma • Raise awareness of institutional services • Better understanding of military culture “Ideas for Innovation” • Major Allison Black • Fall 2010 • “CCVC” • Competently Communicating with Veterans in the Classroom

  3. Alliance members in the MAP program are encouraged to display • the MAP Shield outside their office doors to let others know they • are available to provide support and information about resources. Faculty Development Program

  4. What is an Alliance? • Staff and faculty who identify themselves • as someone who knows something about the issues and concerns faced by student veterans/active military students • as someone who is available to assist the veteran student • They are NOT expected to be experts who can “solve” the problems • a sympathetic ear • someone who can help the student find the appropriate resources for problem resolution.

  5. Overview • Who are Mason’s military and veteran population • Why is the population increasing • The Military experience • Transition from Military to Campus • Scenarios

  6. Commonly Used Terms • Active Duty Service Members • Generic term-encompasses all Active Duty and all branches of service • National Guard and Reserves • Traditional guard and reserves serve 2 days a month and 15 days Annual Tour per year • Subject to activation and mobilization • Veteran • Any individual who served in the U.S. military • OEF- Operation Enduring Freedom • War in Afghanistan • OIF- Operation Iraqi Freedom • War in Iraq

  7. Cont…. • OEF (under the umbrella of GWOT) • Began on October 7, 2001, Bush presidency • US-led coalition action • Focus on counterterrorism activities • Taliban (government from 1996-2001) • Al-Qaeda (led by Osama) • Afghanistan: areas include Kandahar, Bagram Kabul (Camp Eggers and Camp Phoenix)

  8. Cont…. • OIF (Iraqi War, Second Gulf War) • Began on March 20, 2003, Bush presidency • Led to occupation and eventual capture of Saddam • 8 year occupation followed • Feb 2009, President Obama announces 18 month drawdown • Troops still remain to advise/train Iraqi SF

  9. Restrepo • A 2010 documentary by journalist Sebastian Junger and photojournalist Tim Hetherington. • Assignment for Vanity Fair • Embedded with 2nd Platoon of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173 Airborne Brigade • Korengal Valley in Afghanistan • Mission: Clear Korengal Valley of insurgency and gain trust of local population • Outpost Restrepo, named for a platoon medic killed early in the campaign • Mission Operation Rock Avalanche occurred late in the 15 month deployment ** Hetherington was killed in 2011 by mortar shells fired by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces while covering the 2011 Libyan Civil War The Sal Giunta Story

  10. Who is a military or veteran student? • Diverse group of individuals. They are: • From all branches of the military • Range in age, race/ethnicity, gender, and sexuality • Have served during times of war and peace • Have different education goals • More likely to have families

  11. Student Sample

  12. Why? • Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 • -GI Bill of Rights • -To avoid mistakes following WWI • -7.8 million unemployed vets • 2009 – Post 9/11 GI Bill • “ …have been compelled to make greater economic sacrifice and every other kind of sacrifice than the rest of us, and are entitled to definite action to help take care of their special problems.”

  13. Why? • Why not simply pay lump sum? • Integrate veterans into the civilian community • Full-time student-veterans > success

  14. Education Benefits

  15. Veteran Education Student Veteran Pop. 2010 2012 2014 2016 • 2009 – Post 9/11 GI Bill

  16. The Military Experience

  17. Military Experience • Separation from family or loved ones • Most are leaving home for the first time • Separation from extended family and close friends • Separation from boyfriends and girlfriends • Relocate away from family and friends • May be assigned to a base in a different part of the country • Adjustments to new climates and culture

  18. Military Experience Deployments ***(Savych, 2009) • Deployments last from 6-18 months • Multiple deployments • Some serve more than one deployment before being discharged from the military • Over 350,000 have experienced two or more deployments • Emotional Cycle of Deployment: • Pre-Deployment, Deployment, Sustainment, Re-Deployment, Post-Deployment

  19. Emotional Cycle of Deployment *** (Franklin, 2009)

  20. Emotional Cycle of Deployment: Pre-Deployment *** (Franklin, 2009) • Training with long hours away • Spending more time in the field to prepare for deployment • Separation from family and friends before deployment • Getting affairs in order • Preparing a living will and assigning a power of attorney • National Guard and Reservists • Added stress during semester due to anticipation of deployment • May be called to duty while enrolled in classes • Having to file paperwork to withdraw from classes and stop G.I. Bill payments

  21. Emotional Cycle of Deployment:Deployment • Adjusting to being in a combat zone, on a ship, or aircraft • Adjusting to new climate, terrain, and language • Dealing with emotions regarding separation from family, friends, and partners • Maintaining a strong sense of awareness • “Hypervigilance is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviors whose purpose is to detect threats. Hypervigilance is also accompanied by a state of increased anxiety which can cause exhaustion. Other symptoms include: abnormally increased arousal, a high responsiveness to stimuli, and a constant scanning of the environment for threats” • Must maintain some level of emotional control • May not be able to react immediately to loss/trauma but are encouraged to deal with loss/trauma while deployed and upon return *** (Franklin, 2009)

  22. Deployment Cont…. • Persistent hypervigilance and arousal • Sleep deprivation- fatigue • Periods of intense boredom • Some have experienced • Firefights • Friends wounded or killed • RPGs: Rocket Propelled Grenades • IEDs: Improvised Explosive Devices • Car bombs • Suicide bombings • Crowd control ***(Hoge et al., 2004)

  23. Emotional Cycle of Deployment:Post-Deployment • Homecoming • The “honeymoon” stage is when first returning home to family and friends • Difficult adjustment phase for both member and family • Family has adapted to life without member • Everyone has to re-establish roles • Adaptive behaviors for war are maladaptive at home • Aggressive driving = Road Rage • Tactical Awareness = Hypervigilance • Develop a “New Normal” • Adjusting to life after it has changed • Dealing with the emotions of war *** (Franklin, 2009)

  24. Emotional Cycle of Deployment: Family members/Dependents • Family members or dependents may also need support • They may be experiencing • Separation from a loved one • Difficulty concentrating • Difficulty transitioning • Difficulty adjusting to role changes • Loss or injuries of a loved one

  25. Transitioning from Militaryto Campus

  26. Transition Strengths • Veterans/Active Duty transitioning out of the military onto college campuses bring a unique perspective • Military training • Life experience • Established Identity • A more worldly view • Skills taught in the military help students to be successful • Leadership • Motivation • Time Management • Work Ethic • Stress Management

  27. Transition Difficulties • Issues that may arise during the transition process can become barriers to success • Military Mindset … strength and weakness • Difficulty translating their military skills into a new profession • Difficulty switching gears with a new focus that is unrelated to military experience • Defining College credits and transfer policy • Why? AARTS and SMARTS transcripts vs. College Credit • Credits from multiple universities with varying accreditation • Difficulty using the GI Bill • Late fees due to late payment of VA Benefits • Late payment can prevent them from registering for classes, applying for graduation, and receiving transcripts

  28. Transition Difficulties • Being an older student • Freshman 20+ years old with 18 year old classmates • Living off campus • Feeling isolated from classmates • Alienation • Veterans/AD may find it difficult to integrate on campus because their life experiences within the military differ significantly from most other students and faculty. • Insensitivity of classmates, faculty, and others on campus in regards to discussion of war and military • Veterans/AD may not agree with discussions or may feel attacked when asked about their experience

  29. Cont... • Things to keep in mind about Student Veterans in the classroom: • Some may • Have difficulty relating to classmates • Find loud noises to be disturbing • Become anxious with changes in the classroom • Have excessive absences • Have PTSD or TBI • A desire for highly structured environment and routine • Injuries, seen and unseen ***(Pfeffer, 2010)

  30. Considering the Needs of Student Veterans: Disabilities • It is estimated that 23% to 31% of Veterans/AD of OIF/OEF have PTSD symptoms and 20% have mild TBIs. Some of those are coming to our campus. • New Disability • Student Veterans/AD may be experiencing a disability for the first time in their life • May be unaware of services on campus for persons with an identified disability • May not want to identify as having a disability • May not want to disclose problems because of stigma • Identification of disability may have implications for future in the military for those who are still active service members *** (Jones, Young, & Leppma, 2010; Thomas et al., 2010)

  31. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ***(American Psychiatric Association, 2000) • PTSD occurs after an individual has seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death • PTSD is experienced by some, but certainly not all Student Veterans • Have some knowledge of PTSD, BUT do not expect that every Student Veteran will have these symptoms

  32. PTSD Symptoms ***(American Psychiatric Association, 2000) • Repeated "reliving" of the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity • Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again • Avoidance • Emotional "numbing," or feeling as though you do not care about anything • Arousal • Excess awareness (hypervigilance)

  33. PTSD in the Classroom • Exhibited Behaviors: • Sit in the back of the classroom so they can have a clear view of everything around them • Be easily startled by noises (pens dropping, shuffling in a backpack, whispering or other noises from classmates) • Be withdrawn from class discussion • Have difficulty maintaining emotional control during difficult topics

  34. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Remember: although many Veterans may have stressful or traumatic experiences, not all develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  35. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) ***(, 2010) • A blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. • Severity of injury can vary • Mild: brief change in mental status or consciousness • Severe: extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury • Some, but certainly not all Student Veterans, may have experienced a TBI • Have some knowledge of TBI, BUT do not expectthat all Student Veterans/ASMs will have experienced a TBI

  36. Traumatic Brain Injury ***(, 2010) • Combat experience is one of the main risk factors for sustaining a TBI • Exposure to blasts through explosions and roadside bombs • Improvements in body armor and helmets have increased the occurrence of TBI • Likelihood of survival from blasts due to sophisticated equipment, unlike from previous wars • TBI often goes undiagnosed because symptoms may not appear until weeks later • Especially emotional or personality changes which are difficult for strangers to identify • Difficult to differentiate between TBI and PTSD because they have several overlapping symptoms

  37. TBI Symptoms ***(, 2010) • Cognition • Motor/Sensory Disturbances • Impairments in: • Language • Communication • Attention • Concentration • Memory • Learning New Information • Speed of Information Processing • Judgment • Decision-Making • Problem-Solving • Insight

  38. Behavior Lack of Initiation Disinhibition Impulsivity Restlessness Aggression Agitation TBI Symptoms ***(, 2010) • Mood • Apathy/Depression • Anxiety • Irritability • Emotional Liability • Insensitivity • Egocentricity

  39. TBI in the Classroom • Behaviors Exhibited: • Have difficulty expressing themselves (tongue tied) • Show restless behaviors • Example: Constant fidgeting and tapping pens or feet • Show inappropriate reactions to discussion • Example: Becoming aggressive, easily irritated, agitated, or insensitive to others in the classroom • Be withdrawn or not participating in class discussion

  40. Other Wounds of War ***(Spinal Cord Injuries, 2010; VA MST, 2010) • Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) • A spinal cord injury occurs when trauma or disease damages the spinal cord and results in partial or complete paralysis • Military Sexual Trauma (MST) • Includes sexual assault, sexual threats, bullying, and unwanted touching or grabbing that occurred while in the military

  41. Considering the Needs of Student Veterans

  42. Easing the Transition ***(Pfeffer, 2010) • What Student Veterans want faculty to know: • “We are having normal reactions to an abnormal experience.” • “No two veterans are alike.” • “Each of us has had different experiences.” • “Do Not assume that you know my politics or beliefs just because I was in the military.” • “I may or may not be ready to talk about my experiences.” • “Trust can be an issue for me.” • “Being friendly and listening can go a long way toward building trust.” • “Do Not be afraid of me.” • “We are accustomed to being successful and may be too proud to ask for help.”

  43. Easing the Transition • Have an open dialogue about frustrations • Discuss career goals • Provide them with information about various services and resources available as seems appropriate • Office of Military Services • University Career Services • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) • Office of Disability Services • Virginia Department of Veterans Affairs • Fairfax Field Office, Dept of VA • National Center for PTSD • Virginia Wounded Warrior Program “We are Virginia Veterans” • Remember that each student is unique in their experiences

  44. Considering the Needs: Disability Services • What the MAP volunteer should know: • Do not ask or suggest that the Student Veteran has a disability, but inquire about the issues they are experiencing to better provide the appropriate resources • “Academic Services” sheet to guide discussion • Become familiar with information provided on Disability Support Service website for those who may request such services • Students may need extra help navigating the system and understanding what help is available to them • Provide the student with contact information if requested for Disability Support Service Office • Assist in making an appointment, if needed

  45. Suggested Questions To Ask a Student Veteran • Express appreciation for their service • What branch of service • How long they were in the military • What was your job or specialty • How many deployments • When, where, how long • How has your experience at the university been • Could you be called back to active duty • Can you still be deployed • Do not ask if they have killed someone • Do not ask how they were injured


  47. Things to Remember • Students veterans are a unique population with different experience • There are numerous ways to help Student Veterans just as there are for other student populations • Developing trust with this population is important • Following-up with the Student Veterans and carrying out what you say you will do is essential.

  48. Discussion Scenario A Student Veteran approaches you because she is struggling in her classes. She goes to class every day, takes notes, and allots time each day to study. She feels frustrated because no matter how much time she puts into it, she is not getting the grades she wants. How do you help her?

  49. Discussion • Ask the veteran if she has always had difficulties with school work, or if this is new • Assist the veteran in searching for classroom help • Tell her about Learning Services and The Writing Center • Ask her if she is in a study group or would want to join one • Recommend talking to her instructor or T.A. • If she acknowledges that she has a disability, ask if she has gone to the Office of Disability Services (ODS) • Suggest peer mentoring in the “Battle Buddies” program • Have a discussion about her well being • Is she sleeping and eating well? • Have a discussion about her academic success and implications for her GI Bill