Resources for TTU Veterans
Whether this is your first semester or you’re a few months from graduation, the transition from the demands of military life to those of the university usually creates a significant amount of stress. From hanging up the “cammies” to putting on the “civies,” setting down the “ruc sac” to picking up the book bag, and trading in your “deuce gear” for pens and paper, leaving the all-encompassing “Green Machine” for the classroom is no easy task. Many of you are returning from war-zones; the amount of stress from that experience added to what you must already face is, often, immeasurable and overwhelming. Recent studies show that as many as 1 in 3 returning veterans have already, or will experience one or more psychological disorders. A July 2004 article published in the New England Journal of Medicine (“Combat Duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mental Health Barriers to Care,” Vol. 351, No. 1) indicated that 1 in 6 veterans fit criteria for symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Officials with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) claim that many veterans will not receive the psychological treatment they desperately need. Discovery of a medical problem or psychological disorder during one of the many exit examinations all military members must complete frequently results in a hold on dismissal from service. As a result, many service members don’t report problems that require professional attention because they are, understandably, anxious to begin their new civilian lives.
War Zone Stress Reaction and PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a disabling disorder that may develop following a traumatic event. Often, people with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts, memories, and dreams of the terrifying event and feel emotionally distant. An event resulting in PTSD usually involves experiencing death or dismemberment, in some fashion, and a feeling that one was helpless during that event. Common symptoms of PTSD include the following:
Why do so many veterans of this war suffer from war zone stress reactions?
The war in Iraq is known for close-quarters battle. As such, there are no safe places or front lines; soldiers are often unsure whether indigenous personnel are friend or foe. Troops almost never experience anything in Iraq without constant fear of loss of life. They never relax and adrenaline is constantly pushed through the body at alarming rates. Constant high levels of adrenaline create problems over time. When troops return home, they may find great difficulty in adjusting to a more peaceful environment. Panic attacks may be triggered suddenly by sights and sounds that even remotely resemble war-time conditions.
A panic attack involves a sudden and intense fear or discomfort in the absence of real danger. Panic attacks may be unexpected, or brought on by an environmental trigger. In an unexpected attack, the person experiencing the panic may not be able to link the attack to any trigger. Sometimes, the person experiencing the attack may be able to link the episode to a trigger. Common symptoms of panic attacks include the following:
- Accelerated heartbeat
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or feeling of suffocation
- Chest pain
- Fear of death or losing control, “going crazy”
- Tingling in the fingers and toes
If you are experiencing panic attacks, please visit with a counselor as soon as possible.
Why would I benefit from getting help
Many returning service members will suffer from some degree of war zone stress reactions. It is important for returning troops to be aware of the importance of counseling services. Since many now live in a relatively peaceful environment, it may become easier to avoid reminders of trauma faced in Iraq and to, therefore, put off seeking counseling services. Failure to participate in counseling may not only further impact war-related psychological difficulties, but may also exacerbate disorders that may have been present before deployment.
What is the Texas Tech University veteran population like?
-As of Spring 2010 semester, 669 veterans were enrolled at TTU
-Many veterans have also had problems dealing with civilians both in their personal and professional lives. Some feel they’re misunderstood, underappreciated, and segregated from the more traditional student population. Given the United States’ current efforts in Iraq and conflicting civilian views, many veterans may experience some of the discussed problems to a greater degree. If you’re having trouble dealing with anything mentioned in this section, please visit the Student Counseling Center for assistance.
Services Available for Returning Veterans
TTU Veteran's Affairs