Combat Vets as Students

The News & Observer has a good report on the returning OIF and OEF Veterans as some transition to Students in Colleges and Universities around the country, reporting on some of the problems they face in that transition from combat soldier to student.

This could have been expanded, as many already have found out as others before you went through the same, to the transition from In-Theater Soldiers to Civilian life not just as Students


As tens of thousands of veterans of the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq try to collect on their promised college benefits, McKinnon and others are finding that their combat experience complicates the transition from soldier to student.

The report covers one returned soldiers experiance and is titled Combat vets face hurdles as students with the subtitle Colleges learning to deal with PTSD, lost limbs, brain injuries


Sometimes she can’t recall a professor’s name. She loses track of test dates.

Natasha McKinnon is a student at N.C. State University

“Not only am I a full-time student,” McKinnon said during a break between classes, “I’m a full-time patient. It takes a toll, mentally and physically. Sometimes I’m there in class, but only in body. Not in mind.”

Some of these Veterans as students, as well as those back in civilian life, may have had outgoing personalities before but now find it hard to re-integrate back into their once comfortable surroundings and become quieter or moody, they’ve seen and experianced things in these occupation theaters that can’t be explained to the unexperianced, they may have personally done things that go completely against their upbringings or been witness to others actions.

NCSU has a historical connection to veterans; immediately after World War II, the campus was inundated with returning soldiers attending school on the generous GI Bill of 1944. By the fall of ’46, they made up more than three-fourths of NCSU’s enrollment, part of the national “GI Bulge” that sent 8 million vets to college or vocational training.

Compared to that flood, today’s student veterans are a trickle, coming quietly onto campus a few at a time, often without mentioning their military service. No one tracks how many enrolled at NCSU, Duke or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are veterans. If they don’t ask for help, the schools may never know they’re there.

They also return to a Society not paying much attention to what is really going on and only show Support in mostly meaningless ways, using words and symbols, with little actual action nor willing to pay for the needs the country promises to those who serve them.

Recognition of who they are now and what we sent them to experiance and do, In Our Names, should be a Societies Responsibility, that Responsibility also extends to the little Countries Citizens we send our own to invade and occupy especially in our Wars of Choice, for we bring The Terror to their doorsteps not them Terrorizing ours!

“These are people who have put themselves in harm’s way, in a very dangerous place,” Branker said. “I just don’t see that a person could come back from that experience and the effects be mild. If there is a way to help them, we want to do it.”

There is more you can  read about what Ms. McKinnon and her sisters and brother vets are experiancing at the article link.

There is also a couple of related links Some combat scars are like learning disabilities and Audio slide show: Veteran on a mission on the right that you might miss.

What returning Combat Vets need are Good Listeners, when they are comfortable enough to open up, which may take time, a long time.

They most certainly don’t need the UnExperianced telling them what their needs are or how to cope with their Experiances!

Not to Alarm, but as we’ve learned, once again, many are having extreme trouble in their transition and coping and are opting out, this can be caught well before it reaches that stage of personal decision.

If they can reach out to others or those others are asked to help, those who served with them, those who have already returned, those who served in other conflict theaters, those who have the similar experiances of Conflict Theaters of War.

Thoses who have Experianced ease in the transition and coping as they have already started that journey with the help of others of like experiance.

This country faces the Unknown, for there are many who have not only experianced the trauma of war in a single tour of duty but have Mutiple Extended Tours of the Stress and Reality of the Wars of Choice, something unpresentented in previous conflicts unless one choose to serve more tours, and those I knew from ‘Nam did so because they couldn’t transition back, and they never did!

These returning Soldiers also Need Much More Support, not in just words or lapel flag pins, from those We Hire To Represent, that’s their job!!


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    • jimstaro on April 28, 2008 at 15:51

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

    A new independent report by the RAND Corporation says one in five veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression. The report looks at the health care costs today and the need to overhaul the system to meet the needs of returning veterans. Our panel looks at the problem and the challenges ahead.


    Terri Tanielian, study co-director, senior research analyst, co-director, Center for Military Health Policy Research at the RAND Corporation

    Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, M.D., director, Proponency of Behavioral Health, U.S. Army Medical Command

    Paul Rieckhoff, executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and author of “Chasing Ghosts”

  1. Thank you for keeping us informed about the hurdles that returning Soldiers face in transitioning to civilian life.  

    This country is facing the unknown as far as how to responsibly cope with our obligation to returning soldiers, especially those suffering from physical and psychological injuries.  Sadly, so far, we’re not doing a very good job.  

    I feel so helpless, because I’m one of the “inexperienced”, not in a position to directly help.  I retired from the VA; my father was a vet, as is my husband & my son is active duty–so seeing how we as a nation are failing to serve those who serve us is disheartening and outrageous.

    • kj on April 28, 2008 at 17:22

    of Viet Nam vets here in town who are homeless by choice.  (the newspaper did a story on them.)  the two guys first met up some twenty, thirty years ago on the West Coast and ran into each other again here in the Midwest a few years ago.  i see them all the time, they’re ‘known’ figures and have certain areas where they panhandle.  

    and you know, no doubt, they are a couple of the lucky ones. they found each other, they’re accepted in the community, they don’t want anything more than what they have… a safe place to sleep and some food and booze. the community provides.

    what/how are we going to provide for the Iraq/Afghanistan vets?

    • kj on April 28, 2008 at 17:31

    is personal to me, in an abstract way.

    i covered some of the initial deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. i took pictures of the troops and the dignitaries. i met with the commanding officers. i interviewed several soldiers before they left and after they came home. i interviewed their families while they were gone.

    and then i moved away. i am not experienced. i don’t know how to help.

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