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Counseling and Psychological Services
October 22, 2014

 

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Student Veterans

 

Services and Information for Student Veterans

Thank you to all those who have served and who are serving our country. UTPA is honored to have been one of the few institutions of higher education in the country to be designated “Veteran Friendly,” and Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is proud to assist our students who have served in our nation’s military. We understand that the transition from the armed forces to the college campus can be a challenging one, and are dedicated to helping ease that transition.

CaPS works with the Veterans Services Center by providing mental health counseling services with a dedicated Veterans Clinical Therapist, Rachita Sharma, MS, LPC-Intern.

CaPS, along with the Veterans Services Center, are dedicated to helping student veterans with their personal and academic needs. Student veterans are welcome to call or stop by our offices for assistance.

We recommend the 15 minute video (YouTube)Shoulder to Shoulder: I will never quit on life” from the U.S. Army.

Tips adapted from “Military to College Guide for Student Veterans” by Student Veterans of America www.studentveterans.org (Click here for the full pdf.)

  • START WITH A FEW COURSES TO EASE THE TRANSITION.
    • Try choosing a small variety of courses that have different amounts of reading and writing involved (such as math, English, music).
  • MAKE AND KEEP TO A SCHEDULE and include study times.
  • REACH OUT TO OTHER VETERANS on campus to establish a network of people you can rely on, just as you would have in your military life.
  • GET TO KNOW YOUR PROFESSORS and ask them for help.
    • They may have strategies you can use to help master the course material.
  • WHEN STUDYING, TAKE NOTES, TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS, AND FIND A STUDY PARTNER.
  • Take advantage of the Learning Assistance Center’s FREE TUTORING LABS AND WRITING CENTER.
  • IF YOU HAVE A DOCUMENTED DISABILITY, register with Disability Services for accommodations.
  • RECOGNIZE YOUR OWN SIGNS OF PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS and seek help if you are overwhelmed.
    • Talking things out with an impartial professional can help heal emotional wounds. Services through CaPS and VSC are free and confidential.
  • PRACTICE REGULAR EXERCISE AND RELAXATION TECHNIQUES to help reduce anxiety and feelings of depression, and improve concentration.
  • GET PLENTY OF REST, EXERCISE, AND EAT RIGHT.
    • Limit alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and illegal substances.
  • PARTICIPATE IN STUDENT ACTIVITIES to break down barriers and become part of the campus community.
  • Recognize that others may not agree with you or understand your military service. Agree to disagree and know YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO RESPECTFULLY DECLINE TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS THAT MAKE YOU UNCOMFORTABLE.

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Information for Faculty and Staff about Student Veterans

CaPS highly recommends all faculty and staff to attend the HR training on Working with Student Veterans conducted by the Veterans Services Center. For more information or to register for this training, contact Human Resources at (956) 665-2451. You may also contact the Veterans Services Center at (956) 665-7934.

Female Veteran

A few general tips are below.

  • REFRAIN FROM ASSUMPTIONS
    • You can’t tell who the vet is just by appearances.
    • Just because someone is a veteran, it does not mean they have PTSD or anger issues. Approximately 12% of veterans have PTSD (which is only 4% higher than the rate for the general population)
    • One need not have served in a war zone to be experiencing difficulty readjusting to civilian life.
  • BE CAUTIOUS OF STATEMENTS such as “I support the troops but not the war,” as this is not seen as supportive, and can actually be regarded as offensive. Questions like “Have you killed someone?” serve only to alienate student veterans.
  • THANK THEM for their service.
  • Have your department become VETERANS FRIENDLY. For more information on this, contact the Veterans Services Center at 665-7934.
  • REFER TO THE VETERANS SERVICES CENTER and its designated Veterans Counselor when you deem it may be helpful.
  • CONSULT with the Veterans Services Center or Counseling and Psychological Services if you have any questions or concerns.
  • CONSIDER ACCOMMODATIONS for student veterans based on their unique needs.
    • The American Council on Education published “Accommodating Student Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Tips for Campus Faculty and Staff.” The full document may be found at Accommodating Student Veterans (PDF).
    • Suggestions include:
      • Plan ahead to ensure all audio clips and videos are captioned, as many vets have experienced hearing loss. Captioning can also help keep them on track.
      • Ensure handouts and lecture notes are available in an electronic format.
      • Allow for attendance flexibility, as long as absences do not conflict with the core requirements of the class.
      • Allow low-distraction testing accommodations and extra time for exams.
      • Allow students to use an index card with faculty-approved notes for exams, or build memory joggers into exams.
      • Allow students to use index cards, blank paper, or a ruler to help keep their place on exams.
      • Allow students to take short breaks (5-10 minutes) during class sessions or exams when stressful situations arise.
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