On Monday, Nov. 9, the UW-Eau Claire campus held Veteran’s Awareness Training in the Old Library of Schofield.
This event gave students and faculty a chance to become more aware of veterans around campus, and their particular experiences with transitioning into being a student.
Military Education Benefits Director Miranda Cross-Schilder hosted the hour-long event. Cross-Schindler oversees the veteran center and advises the Veterans Club. On top of that, Schindler served in the reserve prior to 9/11.
There are 368 military students on campus, based on the students who are involved and use the military benefits. Of these students, 89 percent are men and 11 percent are women between 25 and 34 years old. Along with this, there are 100 dependents (spouse or children of a veteran.)
There are four branches of service. Part of that is active duty, where you sign a contract to be in service, as it is your career. There is also reserved guard, which is part-time training one weekend every month and annual training of about two weeks every year.
Schindler said over two million soldiers have been deployed since 2011. Forty percent are deployed more than once, always random and unpredictable for the range of battle. Half of the injuries are due to explosive mechanisms.
Schindler said, “The enemy is more of somewhat invisible.” With this, the survivability rate is much higher, but she said many men and woman come home with a physical or emotional injury.
Three current Eau Claire student veterans gathered to shed some light on what it is like to be a student as well as a veteran. Jessica Traw, recently retired Air Force veteran; Molly Bredin, currently two and a half years into the Wisconsin National Guard and Gavriel Gottfried, serving three years in Active Duty Air Force.
When soldiers go from a very structured life on base to an independent college lifestyle, it can be hard to adjust. Many have the warrior mentality where it makes it hard to ask for help.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a natural response to an unnatural event. It is treatable, but very common with soldiers. Eau Claire students with PTSD can utilize the veteran’s room, where veterans can gather to form a group of understanding on their downtime.
Adjusting to certain lifestyles can be difficult for some veterans, such as learning study habits, time management and coming to terms with others that are ahead of you in your age group.
“Trying to manage going to school and being in the military is hard because what many don’t understand is that you are living a dualistic life,” Bredin said. “You are trying to do a job and trying to go to school so it’s very hard to balance the two.”
However, military experience can also give students a different outlook on school.
“Going to school after serving in the military certainly gives another perspective,” Gottfried said. “You have to change gears towards classes, and school is a new mission to accomplish. Veterans have a lot of perspective and experiences that they can bring to the table that most students out of high school that they don’t have.”