February 29th marked the first day of CWU’s First Official Student Veterans Week. Today, The Central Washington University Bateman team hosted the “Experience Panel.” This event was paneled by four CWU student veterans and moderated by an experienced veteran. This was a great way for students and community members to learn about veteran students in their university and their unique experience.
The theme of this discussion was these students transition from military to civilian life. As each student has their own personality, each had their own individual story. Three things that the same for each of them, they all joined a branch of the military, they have all seen war and they have all had to make the transition from military to civilian life.
All of the veterans had obstacles that they felt were the most challenging but the common obstacle among them was newfound freedom. Being in the military, soldiers have strict rules and routines. They would at times know what they would be doing months ahead of when they would do it. Leaving this environment left them with a lot of free time.
Three out of four of the students expressed trouble with alcohol abuse. In an article from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs titled “PTSD and Substance Abuse in Veterans,” the authors wrote, “In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning soldiers seen in VA have
a problem with alcohol or other drugs” (2015). This was their way to cope after coming home from the war.
There are many resources out there for veterans but there are often difficulties from veterans receiving the care they need. From our Central Washington University panelists, I found out that resources are not specialized for veteran needs, far away and generally not very well advertised. However, thanks to our campus Veterans Center, most of their transition needs were met. The Veterans Center provides consultation to veterans and their dependents for their academic pursuits.
The panelists and the moderator shared personal stories of their experiences in military life and transition from a service member. I personally would not have known anything about the experience of student veterans if I had not attended this event. Now that it is officially Student Veterans Week in Washington State, I encourage all of you to take an extra step to thank a veteran. Do more thank say it, show it.