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Student Veterans Project

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on 16 April 2014

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Transcript of Student Veterans Project

Student Veteran Project
The Picture Today
Over 2.3 million American Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
45% claim a disability.
Over 1,600 lost a limb.
Over 156 are blind; Thousands have impaired vision.
Over 177,000 report hearing loss; over 350,000 report tinnitus.
200 need major face transplants.
Over 400,000 report PTSD or Mental Health concerns.
50% of those with PTSD do not seek treatment.
19% may have Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Overall, national data suggest that military personnel in the current OIF/OEF conflicts may be showing increased psychiatric morbidity compared to earlier conflicts. (Dole et al, 2007).

The Way out
Guiding Military Heroes Towards Successful Academic Life
The Student Veteran and Military Youth Resilience Projects
UT Arlington School of Social Work

Acknowledgment: The Student Veteran and Resilience Projects have been funded by a UT Arlington Research Enhancement Grant (pilot phase), The Dallas Foundation (the pilot phase), The Hogg Foundation, the Amon Carter Foundation/iCAP (pilot phase), and private donors.
As of FY 2007:
Texas is home to an estimated 1.7 million Veterans.
North Texas accounts for approximately 24% of the total US Veteran population. (Texas Veterans Commission, n.d.).
Approximately 42,000 recently separated Veterans may reside in North Texas.

Who Is The Current Veteran?
All Volunteer Force Cohort
Main reason for enlistment: Educational Benefits
Higher proportion of female & minority personnel
Female & minority groups especially seek educational benefits through military service. (VA Survey, 2001)
Significantly younger than median VA patients
"Half The Battle" 2013
Limited attention is currently targeted to
meeting the special needs
of student Veterans with
mental illness, or
adjustment concerns.

"Half The Battle" 2013
What Difficulties Did You Face Returning to College?

Goal Attainment & Resiliency Program
Builds on current strengths and treatment
Provides additional services & peer advocacy
Focused on facilitating recovery services and successful goal attainment of post-secondary education success through peer-advocacy and support.
Negotiates student role & moderates for "culture shock;"
Assists in developing skills necessary for student role success;
Monitors and moderates for adverse symptomatology on student role functions;
Assists in balancing multiple roles/responsibilities - family, student, community, etc.
Planned leave/reentry procedures as needed to accommodate medical needs.

Truncated educational attainment related to mental health status
produces costs to society as well as to the individual veteran.
Significant Culture Shock
American Veterans
Post-Secondary Education
WWII Veterans achieved significant gains in post-secondary education through the use of their G.I. Bill following military service.
This significantly assisted in expanding the American Middle Class in the 1950's.

Opportunities for post-secondary education and the personal improvement of an individual's life trajectory remain the number one reason for enlistment in the AVF.

Post-secondary educational success is currently being studied as an important factor in a Veteran's post-military life trajectory plan.
Veterans expect to reintegrate into civilian life through successfully navigating and completing post-secondary education.

However, current research suggests the G.I. Bill alone is not sufficient in supporting the Veterans transition into post-secondary education.

The North Texas Veteran
Signature Conditions of the AVF OIF/OEF Veteran Population
Evidence-based supported education models exist and are effective in supporting, navigating, and enriching the Veteran's post-secondary educational objectives.
These supported education models are directed towards all Veterans, from those relearning the civilian environment, to those possessing psychiatric or physical disabilities, adjustment disorders, or other impairments to educational success.
UT Arlington
Student Veteran Program
From High Occupational Demands to Resiliency
Two Types of
High Occupational Demand Stress Exposure
What Happens During
High Occupational Demand Stress
Abnormal fight, flight, or freeze response.

Responses are from a place of survival.
Muscle tension
GI Issues
Self injury
Blunted Affect
Military training works to mitigate the
High Occupational Demand Stress of military service through initial entry and ongoing training programs and Resiliency Training.
The ability to experience and maintain stress within ones widow of tolerance.
Being calm, focused, or relaxed.
The experience of stress outside of ones window of stress tolerance.
Being stressed out, or in a state of distress.
The Student Veteran Project & Resiliency
Pilot test phase (June 1, 2007 - September 1, 2008) -- Community phase (September 1, 2008 - present)
Studies show that the program:
Reduced or stabilized symptoms (e.g., post-test PTSD symptoms);
Reduced negative chain reactions stemming from the risk factors;
Promoted resiliency traits.
What Does the Project Do?
Utilizing an Assertive Community Model, peer advocates assist student Veterans entering or re-entering post-secondary education.

Peer advocates become a part of the student Veterans social and informational network, and work with and for the student Veteran in facilitating the removal of any obstacles in the way of the Veteran's goal of attaining a post-secondary degree.
What Does That Mean?
Specific Assistance Provided With:
Understanding the transition to the student role;
Identifying the Veteran's education goals;
Applying for college;
Understanding and applying for benefits & financial aid;
Setting goals and measuring progress to maximize the Veteran's transition to civilian life & the student role;
Locating resources to assist the Veteran and their family with their educational journey;
Advocating with continuing care, as needed;
Increasing the Veteran's social and informational support network with peer advocate support facilitators to guide, mentor, and advocate for the Veteran through their transition.

How Does This Benefit Me?
Your participation in this research project will assist you in developing positive transition skills to the civilian and academic environments. Peer advocates will support and advocate for your goal attainment through goal setting, monitoring of progress, and advocacy of access to services and any assistance that you may need to meet your educational goals and further your life trajectory.

These study-related services are free of charge to participants.
How Can I Sign Up?
Contact us to obtain an intake packet.

Upon completion of this packet, you will be contacted to complete a needs assessment.

This will enable us to tailor our assistance to your specific needs.

Following that, a peer advocate will reach out to you directly for one-on-one and face-to-face sessions.

The Student Veteran Project requests a minimum participation of four (4) sessions with your peer advocate over 2 or more semesters.

This program is applicable toward attaining a degree at any 2 or 4 year post secondary college or university anywhere in the United States.
However, not all Veterans have service-related psychiatric or physical disabilities.

For many Veterans, the single largest challenge is reintegration to the civilian environment.
Role Confusion
Cross Cultural
Communication Failures
Ambiguities Abound!
Search for the
"Student Veteran Project" at
UT Arlington
However, High Occupational Demand Stress can rewire the emotional response and control systems of the brain.
Dysregulation becomes the "new normal."
Survival instincts honed in battle or in training do not translate back into civilian life.
is set on
"Survival mode."
The brain is hijacked by the limbic system and the amygdala. Executive functioning diminishes.
Access to your neurological executive functions occurs only in a state of emotional regulation.
Promoting Self Regulation changes plasticity of the brain.
Why is self regulation important?

Why is it important to have an increased stress window of tolerance?
Self - Advocacy
Self - Learning
Self - Management

Using a Resiliency-based framework, Student Veterans are able to readjust into the civilian world in a supported, advocated, and purposeful environment, focused on their needs, desires, and goals.
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