Over 130 participants took part in an event sponsored by PSU and partners designed to help returning veterans reintegrate into the community. Continuing Education, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, and the NW Veterans Administration MIRECC program collaborated to help professionals in education, mental health, and addiction services who work with veterans understand the challenges facing soldiers and their families when reintegrating into civilian life. Over 14 speakers in 11 sessions presented on topics crucial to this process.
The overarching goal of the event was to equip providers and other professionals with information needed to better identify and treat combat-related mental health problems. Sessions covered topics such as:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Traumatic brain injury
- The criminal justice system
- Threat assessment
- Women’s issues in reintegration
- Issues for families of soldiers, such as absentee parent issues, home financing while deployed, and stress on children and teens
What is it like to be a vet on PSU campus?
Several PSU students were guest speakers, including Navy veteran Dave Ball. “While on active duty, I was injured and involuntarily separated from the military,” he said. “I instantly lost the camaraderie of the other members of my unit.” He found it difficult to adjust until he started classes at PSU and began affiliating with other student veterans on campus. Sharing similar experiences with his fellow student vets has helped him regain that fellowship at PSU.
Ron Kincaid spoke about veterans in higher education. As the Service Officer for Region 1, he is a new resource for veterans on PSU campus. His job was created by the Oregon Legislature in 2009 to place state veteran services officers on Oregon’s college campuses. His goal is to make sure veterans in the NW region know what their benefits are and how best to advocate for themselves if they get tangled up in the bureaucracy of the Federal VA system. He is often hands-on with individual veterans. His philosophy is “Every day is Veteran’s Day!”
Mr. Kincaid can be reached at his PSU office in 104 Neuberger Hall where he advises veterans on benefits for education, disability compensation and pensions, health care benefits, home loans, and more. He also can assist vets in appealing claims that the VA has denied.
PSU’s Office of Veterans Affairs and the Student Veterans Association are two sources on campus providing support for veterans returning to school. PSU began as a school for returning veterans and has a long history of support for veteran students. These groups assist students with financial aid, advising, and academic issues. This is the first event held by PSU to help the broader audience acquire an understanding of returning veterans’ issues.
PSU will continue to collaborate with Veterans Affairs and TriWest Healthcare Alliance, and will provide additional training to the community as veterans return from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas of combat.