Barriers Veteran Students Face in Higher Education

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Barriers Veteran Students Face in Higher Education by Mind Map: Barriers Veteran Students Face in Higher Education

1. Justin Wiet

1.1. Veteran to student: Reintegrating into civilian life

1.1.1. Identity Veterans strong sense of identity stems from a lived structured lifestyle coupled with a strong sense of belonging (Jones, 2013; Killam & Degges, 2018; Rumann & Hamrick, 2013). This is in contrast to life in a university that requires more self-regulating and individualism which causes an internal conflict of identity. (Jones, 2013; Rumann & Hamrick, 2013).

1.1.2. Differences in "life stages" Veterans are usually older and carry responsibilities that are oftentimes beyond those of traditional college students. This difference in maturity and responsibilities that often come with age create an environment that is difficult for veterans to integrate into a college. (Gregg, Howell, & Shordike, 2016; Killam & Degges, 2018; Norman et al., 2015). Veterans also have shown frustration or expressed feelings of being misunderstood by traditional students because of the disconnect created from being in two completely different stages of adulthood (Killam & Degges, 2018; Norman et al., 2015)

1.1.3. Finding help and the stigma created in the military Many veterans find it difficult to express their emotions or find it "weak" to admit to having mental health issues. The military culture creates stigma around mental health and thus is leading veterans to not report their mental health struggles. Not reporting mental health struggles, especially ones caused by trauma, creates a difficult environment for veterans to properly integrate and socialize with college peers. (Olsen, Badger, & McCuddy, 2014; Schonfeld et al., 2014)

2. Maddie Winebarger

2.1. Financial Barriers Veteran Students Face

2.1.1. Employment Veteran students face many barriers while attending college. One of the barriers veteran students are faced with is financial barriers. Many veteran students are older than the average college student and are married with children; this adds more responsibility to veteran students such as working full or part-time jobs to earn enough money to support their family (Alschuler & Yarab, 2018; Bailey, Drury & Grandy, 2019; Borasri et al., 2017; Durella & Young, 2012; Semer & Harmening, 2015). Working enough hours to pay bills and support a family as well as trying to obtain a degree within four years can be very difficult for veteran students. Veteran students who are using the GI Bill must be able to obtain their degree within four years if they want to be able to use Bill to help pay for their tuition and books (Alschuler & Yarab, 2018; Bailey et al., 2019; Bell, Boland, Dudgeon, & Johnson, 2013; Borasri et al., 2017; Durella & Young, 2012; Semer & Harmening, 2015).

2.1.2. G.I. Bill Many college campuses are seeing an increase in the number of veteran students applying to college due to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The bill is an updated version of the original GI Bill and provides veterans with funding for tuition, books, and some money for housing (Bailey et al., 2019; Bell et al., 2013; Norman et al., 2015; Wurster, Rinaldi, Woods, & Ming Liu, 2013). While the bill does provide financial support to veteran students, it also has some flaws. Veteran students are only able to receive their housing stipends while they are enrolled in classes, so veteran students do not receive help with housing during the summer or holiday breaks ( Bell et al., 2013; Semer & Harmening, 2015; Wurster et al., 2013). The Post 9/11 GI Bill also has some issues with getting veteran students their benefits on time for each semester. Many veteran students are forced to pay out of pocket for their tuition and books because they will not receive their benefits until later in the semester (Borasri et al., 2015; Wurster et al., 2013). These limitations cause unnecessary stress for veteran students.

2.1.3. First-Generation College Students Many veteran college students are first-generation college students who come from low-income families (Bailey et al., 2019; Selber & Chavikin, 2014; Wurster et al., 2013). First-generation veteran college students tend to feel out of place on college campuses because of their financial status. Being first-generation students from low-income families, they usually do not receive any financial support from their families (Bailey et al., 2019; Selber & Chavikin, 2014; Wurster et al., 2013). Without financial help from their families, they have to rely upon the money they receive from the Post 9/11 GI Bill as well as what they make from working either part-time or full-time jobs (Alschuler & Yarab, 2018; Bailey et al., 2019; Borasri et al., 2017; Durella & Young, 2012; Selber & Chavikin, 2014; Semer & Harmening, 2015; Wurster et al., 2013). Many traditional college students are much younger than first-generation college students, and they tend to have more financial support from their families (Bailey et al.; Selber & Chavikin, 2014; Wurster et al., 2013). Therefore, many first-generation veteran students have more financial stress than the typical college student.

3. Christina Randolph

3.1. Veteran Mental Health

3.1.1. PTSD 21st-century medicine and advances in technology mean that service members face less casualties, but far more deployments and longer duration during these deployments. This means longer exposure to stressful combat situations and injuries. This long exposure to traumatic events and stress can manifest into PTSD. PTSD is a mental illness that affects a persons self-regulation of everyday activities due to the effects of symptoms such as hyper vigilance and avoidance. (Aikins, Golub, & Bennett, 2015; Ness, Middleton, & Hildebrandt, 2015). Mental health symptoms related to PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury) is far more prevalent among the veteran population compared to the general population. Studies suggest that one-third of service members will struggle with PTSD. (Currier, McDermott, & Sims, 2018; Aikins, Golub, & Bennett, 2015). PTSD can make it harder for a veteran student to succeed academically in universities, creating a barrier for veteran students trying to earn a degree. PTSD symptoms were linked with lower self- efficacy for learning, or the perceived capacity to learn. Due to these specific needs, schools should include adequate accommodations for their veteran students such as providing private rooms for exams. ( Ness, Middleton, & Hildebrandt, 2015; Horne & Tschudi, 2014).

3.1.2. Veteran Needs Student service members/veterans (SSM/V) represent a specific group of adult learners who often present typical social, cognitive, physical, and psychological readjustment challenges when transitioning to college environments.Veteran students have to face unique challenges when reintegrating. For example, veterans are more often older and need to balance family and academic work. Nearly half of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are married. (McCaslin, Leach, Herbst, & Armstrong, 2013; Aikins, Golub, & Bennett, 2015). A study of 25 OEF/OIF veterans from four 4-year universities reported that the transition from combat veteran to college student was "the most difficult transition of all." These unique needs are not common among "typical" college students, and the stress of reintegrating into civilian academia can result in aggravated mental health symptoms such as PTSD. Unfortunately, some campuses have support services for veterans, but the availability and level of support from veterans service offices and other campus support services vary from one institution to another. (Fortney, et. al., 2017; Aikins, Golub, & Bennett, 2015). Student veterans seeking higher education are at risk for an increased level of social, academic and mental health difficulties when compared to their non-service member peers. Veteran students also face lower GPA scores, less social supports and increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. One way that schools can help provide for their veteran students is to bring multidisciplinary outreach, social work and mental health resources to campuses in order to provide convenient care. (Noosha, & Lauren, 2017; McCaslin, Leach, Herbst, & Armstrong, 2013).

3.1.3. Stigma Military culture provides a very structured lifestyle for young service members, however it also can create an unhealthy perspective about seeking help. Among the active-duty population, personal stigma and unfavorable beliefs about treatment effectiveness have been reported as barriers to care. Studies have found that student veterans experience more personal stigma and skepticism about treatment for mental health. (Currier, McDermott, & Sims, 2018; Fortney, et. al., 2017). Military culture can be linked to ideologies such as not accepting or recognizing the need for help, lack of awareness of available resources, and equating help with failure. A possible solution for schools is to provide emotional and social supports such as clubs and support groups. Emotional and social support is associated with better mental health outcomes and more positive academic adjustment among student veterans. (Horne & Tschudi, 2014; Aikins, Golub, & Bennett, 2015).

4. Glenis Garcia

4.1. Veterans Support Network

4.1.1. Faculty and Administration Engagement In the academic environment, the support and relationship professionals have with the military outside classrooms, produces significant engagement with their students. Students interactions with administrators have proven to have negative experiences due to the lack of knowledge about the military from faculty (Gonzalez, & Elliot, 2016; Griffin, & Gilbert, 2015). Faculty who show deference and acknowledgment in student veterans have implied military issues in their classrooms. Professors and/or faculty should engage in professional development to denote the stigmatization of student veterans (Gonzalez, & Elliot, 2016; Vaccaro, 2015).

4.1.2. Social Support Contribution in Academics Transitioning to civility life and academic culture is challenging for veteran students. Numerous institutions provide professional services to degrade the harsh transition. Veterans’ offices are organizations that advocate for the students and they provide various services that promote academic achievement and aid. Social support plays an important role in the well-being of veteran students. Academic institutions can help intervene by providing assessment and interventions to help adapt and learn emotion regulation (Griffin, & Gilbert, 2015; Williston, & Roemer, 2017). Social support has a significant effect on student veterans facing psychological distress and reduces the risk of academic dysfunction. Social support correlates positively with satisfaction in one's life and academic engagement (Whiteman, Barry, Mroczek, & MacDermid Wadsworth, 2013; Williston, & Roemer, 2017).

4.1.3. Civilian Student Peer Support Veteran Students receiving emotional peer support have reported lower distress symptoms. A significant amount of veterans have stronger support from their families and incivility friends. It is shown that veteran students receive low emotional support from their civilian colleagues. Due to the lack of emotional peer support from their peers, there is a negative correlation with psychological distress. There is a higher chance in veterans students to consider dropping out of their academic institution due to sensing a lack of value from their peers and faculty in class settings (Whiteman et al., 2013; Fernandez, Merson, Ro, Rankin, 2019). Civilian college students undergo the traditional college experience while the student veterans are a diverse population, and some have experienced exposure to combat (Griffin, & Gilbert, 2015; Fernandez et al., 2019).