Training helps faculty, staff assist military students
The Iowa State Veterans Center is planning additional Gold Star faculty and staff training for fall semester. To find out when the sessions are scheduled or to stay informed about additional veterans events, sign up on the center's website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Iowa State is home to more than 1,800 students who are student veterans, dependents of veterans using military benefits, or family members of veterans not using military benefits. So the odds of faculty and staff members interacting with individuals connected to the military is fairly high.
To help Iowa State employees better support the unique needs of military students, the Iowa State Veterans Center has launched Gold Star faculty and staff training. The hour-long session, led by veterans center director Jathan Chicoine, covers some of the challenges student veterans and individuals from military families face, and how the university community can ease the transition from military to civilian life.
Chicoine said some of the challenges student veterans and other military students face include:
- Becoming aware of university resources available to them
- Applying military credits to academic courses
- Meeting expectations of faculty members
- Understanding policy issues related to tuition, future military deployments and drill responsibilities
- Dealing with complex military educational benefits
- Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Finding and financing support services for families, such as child care
- Having trouble relating to traditional students
- Feeling isolated, no sense of belonging
- Dealing with insensitive questions and discussions by classmates, faculty or staff (i.e., "Have you ever killed anyone?")
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Occurs following a traumatic event that involves injury, the threat of injury or death
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI): A blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts brain function
Faculty and staff who suspect a student may be having suicidal thoughts should encourage that student to contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, (800) 273-8255, or call 911 if a student is in immediate danger of harming himself or herself.
Chicoine said it's important to remember that not all veterans and military personnel experience PTSD or TBI. He added that faculty and staff should be aware that a family member may experience secondary trauma after hearing details of a traumatic experience faced by their loved one. Not all deployments are traumatic, he said.
How to help
Chicoine said there are several ways faculty and staff can assist student veterans:
- Listen without judgment
- Know about available resources, including:
- Iowa State's Veterans Center
- Veterans certifying officials, ISU employees who assist students with military education benefits (contact Enrollment Services Center, 294-1840)
- Office of student financial aid
- Student counseling services
- Dean of students office
- Des Moines Veterans Outreach Center
- Participate in events designed to connect student veterans and their families with faculty and staff, including:
- Gold Star Hall ceremony, early November
- Community supper honoring veterans and their families, early November
- Faculty, staff, student meet and greets, each semester
- Visit and refer students to Iowa State's Veterans Center website
- Read about the center's strategic plan and support its efforts
- Participate in training opportunities
"It takes a collaboration of effort from all of us to provide the best support possible," Chicoine said.