The Impact of War and Service on Veterans Attending College

Ashley Abene

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Liberal Arts, Department of Verbal and Visual Arts, College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, November 1, 2013.

Abstract

In 2012 alone, almost 400,000 veterans enrolled in college and used GI Bill benefits for the first time (McGovern 21). Several thousand more are anticipated to enroll in college within the next few years as nearly two million veterans return from overseas (Sander 2). The goal of this thesis is to show composition professors the extreme re-adjustment that is required for veterans returning not only to civilian life but especially to academia. Although veterans have been enrolling in college for decades, this thesis focuses solely on the influx of recent war veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Since the majority of freshmen and sophomore students are required to take some kind of composition course, composition professors are at a unique advantage to encounter student veterans and to make difference in their integration into college life. There are numerous obstacles veteran students often have to overcome when they are enrolling in college. One such obstacle for many is that the subculture within the military is different in many ways from the culture within civilian society. Many military members can find it very difficult to reintegrate into civilian society and therefore the academic environment as well. This can be very disheartening. However, in addition to adjustment issues, the most common obstacle that many veterans struggle to overcome is posttraumatic stress v disorder (otherwise known as PTSD). If unprepared, professors who encounter students with this type of disorder in the classroom could be overwhelmed by the prospect of what it entails. This thesis offers suggestions and advice for professors teaching in the humanities disciplines regarding how to aid veteran students with readjustment problems (which will include posttraumatic stress disorder).