Classes to reintegrate soldiers into daily life are lacking at Temple but thrive at other institutions.
As levels of combat decrease in Iraq and reach record highs in Afghanistan, more and more psychologically wounded troops are returning home. Some are able to return to a “normal” life, but many soldiers and families suffer repercussions of war.
One in three Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, a mild brain injury or a combination of all three, according to Research And Development Corporation figures in a USA Today report.
Universities are creating classes to train students how to treat combat war veterans and their families suffering from war-related health problems, producing the professionally trained individuals we need to properly deal with these issues.
So far, the University of Washington-Tacoma and the University of Southern California are starting programs that address military culture, combat experience and the problems military families may endure.
Even local universities are starting to get on the ball. The University of Pennsylvania has its Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety. A world-renowned treatment research center, the CTSA is dedicated to developing, refining and testing state-of-the-art therapies for anxiety and traumatic stress disorders. While there is no particular curriculum in place that specifically trains students, CTSA has been very successful in its workshops and studies that help to treat war veterans.
“PTSD is very prevalent in combat veterans who are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Director of CTSA Dr. Edna B. Foa said. “It is a big issue for the Veteran Affairs Department and the military in general. Both the VA and the military are doing their best to meet the challenge, but we are all behind.”
Drexel University does not have a specific program designed to treat war veterans, but it does cover the treatment of PTSD using a cognitive-behavioral approach called prolonged exposure therapy, which was developed and validated by Foa. PE is theoretically based and highly efficacious for treatment for chronic PTSD and related depression, anxiety and anger.
Drexel offers free education to an unlimited number of military veterans within all of the university’s full- and part-time undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional programs – both on campus and online – as part of its participation in the new GI Bill’s Yellow Ribbon Program.
The program, a partnership between the federal government and Drexel (the university matches the government’s contribution to the cost of an education), allows eligible veterans to attend Drexel with no out-of-pocket expenses.
Temple is doing its part to assist our war veterans but does not currently offer a course specifically designed to address the needs of veterans.
Tuttleman Counseling Services is an accredited mental health service for students. It provides individual and group counseling services and crisis intervention. Sessions with psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists are confidential and free of charge. The Office of Disability Resources and Services also offers confidential services for veterans with a disability, such as PTSD or traumatic brain injury.
The repercussions of the war linger and affect those who have been on the battlefield. Programs specifically designed to train students and professionals will present an opportunity for veterans to have a somewhat healthy transition and re-integration into their families, workplace and communities.
Haniyyah Sharpe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.