Division employees explore best ways to support students who are veterans
The Student Affairs Diversity Team invited Student Affairs employees to extend their awareness of challenges unique to students who are veterans. Programs on November 3 and 4 included a counselor from Cedar Rapids Veterans Services Center who is available to UNI students on campus each week. Penny Freeman, counselor, said readjustment issues include:
- Feeling lost when back at home and problems with the new routine
- Feeling unwanted because family and co-workers had adjusted to the veteran’s absence
- Difficulty expressing emotions
- Lack of positive emotions
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability, anger and rage
- Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
- Feeling that events from the period of service are happening again
- Feelings of anxiety or panic
- Unwanted distressing thoughts/images
The program included a panel of current student veterans who said that attending classes with students who are much younger and who do not have life experience/maturity equivalent to the veteran’s is difficult. The desire to attend class and work independently on projects was expressed; expecting veterans to engage in interaction beyond coursework seemed like an imposition to several of the veterans. Other challenges include expectations that the veteran can speak for all veterans on topics of national security or that the veteran will share wartime experiences with others. Students who are veterans are likely juggling coursework, a job, adjustments unique to returning to the US, families and classes. Many also face the possibility of re-deployment on short notice.
Outcomes of the program include increased awareness of the presence of the veterans on campus and to evaluation of service delivery choices with consideration of this student group.