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You’ve served your country, now let UMassD help you succeed!

 

The Center for Access & Success (CAS) GOALS: To provide student veterans with disabilities with information for providing effective services and resources in higher education

The American with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (amended as Title IV of Workforce Investment Act (WIA) provides protections for student veterans with disabilities. To assist student veterans with disabilities, it is important to understand the challenges they face as they return to the postsecondary environment.

Let’s remember: While student veterans with disabilities bring several unique challenges, they also bring their own set of strengths to a campus: leadership, teamwork, resilience, and self-discipline (Church, 2009).

What benefits does the post Veterans Assistance Act of 2008 (GI Bill) provide for students with disabilities?

  • provides student veterans a variety of important benefits such as financial support for education and housing. To qualify, military veterans must have served for least 90 days of aggregate service after September 10, 2001, or have been discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days of service
  • tuition support for student veterans attending public, in-state postsecondary institutions
  • The Post/ 911 GI Bill also allocates books and supplies stipends, trainings, and in some cases, housing allowances for student veterans. 

The common types of disabilities that student veterans and military service students have that hinder their academic performance are as followed: 

  • physical & sensory disabilities
  • traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • attention deficit disorder (ADD)
  • hearing/vision Loss
  • memory/processing conditions
  • chronic health conditions

Accommodations and strategies are individualized to all military service members and student veterans. The CAS team will meet with you one-on-one to determine the best possible way to assist you in meeting your academic goals.

How might physical disabilities affect a military student’s performance in the classroom?

  • Interference with physical dexterity to complete laboratory, computer or writing assignments
  • Difficulty with prolonged sitting or standing at a lab table
  • Mobility challenges to and from the classroom and other activities
  • Difficulty hearing lecture, discussion or advising sessions
  • Difficulty seeing the board, reading course materials, creating written assignments

What accommodations and strategies are helpful for students with physical disabilities and hard of hearing students? 

  • Peer notetaker
  • Audio recording of lectures
  • Classroom assignments made available in electronic format
  • Sign Language Interpreters
  • Preferential seating and the elimination of unnecessary background noise

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

 How might TBI affect a military student’s performance in the classroom? 

  • Cognitive problems such as judgment, attention, concentration, processing new information, distraction, language abilities, sequencing, short-term memory, slower thinking
  • Perceptual problems such as hearing, vision, orientation to space and time, touch, balance and pain sensitivity
  • Physical problems, which include; motor skills, endurance fatigue, speech, headaches and seizures
  • Behavioral and emotional problems such as irritability, impatience, problems with impulse control, stress, self-awareness, mood swings, personality changes, reading social cues and dependence/independence
  • Psychiatric problems may include depression, hallucinations, paranoia and suicidal thoughts
  • Symptoms may increase during times of fatigue and stimulus overload
  • Decreased ability to self-monitor and establish an appropriate pace of learning or working activity
  • Mild TBI patients’ behavior may mimic PTSD and other mental health symptoms, which can contribute to problems in obtaining appropriate services

What accommodations and strategies are helpful for students with TBI? 

  • Scheduling (e.g. alarm clocks, planners, pagers, breaks)
  • Checklists
  • Memory strategies and memory aid devices (e.g. audio recorders) 
  • Adaptive technology
  • Meeting with a Graduate Assistant
  • Peer notetakers

Post-Traumatic Disorder (PTSD)

How might PTSD affect a military student’s performance in the classroom?

  • Interference with cognitive skills, judgments, memory, concentration, organizational skills and motivation
  • Difficulty coping or performing under pressure
  • Side effects from medication such as fatigue, drowsiness, slow response time and problems initiating interpersonal contact
  • Problems sustaining concentration and difficulty retaining verbal directions, problems maintaining stamina and combating drowsiness due to medications
  • Difficulty managing assignments and performing multiple tasks with time pressures, and prioritizing tasks
  • Difficulty interacting with others and responding appropriately to social cues
  • Problems with authority figures and approaching instructors
  • Problems with negative feedback and interpreting criticism
  • Problems with unexpected changes in coursework, and dealing with interruptions
  • Anxiety resulting in poor performance
  • Unpredictable absences
  • Problems with frightening thoughts, flashbacks and reminders
  • Distrusts of systems and alienation
  • Possible social withdrawal 
  • Sleep difficulties

What accommodations and strategies are helpful for students with PTSD? 

  • Preferential seating, especially near the door for breaks
  • Prearranged or frequent breaks
  • Memory strategies and memory aid devices (e.g. audio recorders) 
  • Peer Notetaker or photocopy of class notes
  • Extended time on exams and quizzes
  • Exam in a separate, quiet, and non-distracting room

How might other physical and mental health disabilities affect a military student’s performance in the classroom?

  • Interference with cognitive skills, judgments, memory, concentration, organizational skills and motivation
  • Difficulty coping or performing under pressure
  • Side effects from medication such as fatigue, drowsiness, slow response time and problems initiating interpersonal contact
  • Problems sustaining concentration and difficulty retaining verbal directions, problems maintaining stamina and combating drowsiness due to medications
  • Difficulty managing assignments and performing multiple tasks with time pressures, and prioritizing tasks
  • Difficulty interacting with others and responding appropriately to social cues
  • Problems with authority figures and approaching instructors
  • Problems with negative feedback and interpreting criticism
  • Problems with unexpected changes in coursework, and dealing with interruptions
  • Anxiety resulting in poor performance
  • Unpredictable absences
  • Problems with frightening thoughts, flashbacks and reminders
  • Distrusts of systems and alienation
  • Possible social withdrawal 
  • Sleep difficulties

The CAS can help you succeed with services including:

  • Extended time on tests and quizzes
  • Reduced distraction test environment
  • Preferred seating
  • Audio recording lectures
  • Loaner smart pens for notetaking
  • Peer notetakers
  • Use of laptops for essays or notetaking
  • Sign Language Interpreters
  • Textbooks in accessible format
  • Advocacy and Meditation
  • One-on-One meetings with a graduate assistant

 

Additional Resources for Our Veterans

TBI Resources:

  • Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA)—The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) provides awareness and advocacy related to brain injury. BIAA support efforts in advocacy, education and research to enhance the lives of individuals with TBI. http://www.biausa.org/
  • Defense and Veterans Brain Injuries Center (DVBIC)—The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is an important component of the U.S. military health system. Currently, there are 17 sites across the country supported by the DC headquarters that is designed to treat, support, train, and monitor service members, veterans, and providers for veterans with TBI. http://dvbic.dcoe.mil
  • Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention--Facts for Physicians about Mild Traumatic Brain Injury is a toolkit designed to provide information and resources to physicians about mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). The toolkit defines MTBI, the magnitude of MTBI as well as symptoms and preventive measures of obtaining a MTB. http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/headsup/pdf/Facts_for_Physicians_booklet-a.pdf
  • Institute of Medicine (IOM), Gulf War and Health, Vol. VII, Long Term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury is a free publication that outlines the biology of TBI, epidemiology of adult TBI, and evaluates the literature on major cohort studies of TBI. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/12436.html
  • National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA)—The National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA) is deeply involved in address state issues related to TBI. NASHIA is designed to ensure that states are providing services and supports to individuals with TBI. NASHIA is dedicated to education and training and raising public awareness to state governments as well as federal entities, national associations, and TBI stakeholders. http://www.nashia.org/
  • National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education—The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) is committed to supporting comprehensive research relating to the field of rehabilitation research of individuals with disabilities. NIDDR is involved with several programs and projects that are designed to enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities from birth to adulthood. http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/nidrr/index.html?src=mr
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)—The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is a part of the National Institutes of Health developed to combat neurological disease all over the world. NINDS supports and conducts research, disseminates grants, provides fellowships, and disseminates best practices on neurological disorders. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/
  • North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS)—The North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS) is a society of multidisciplinary brain injury professionals. The society is designed to bridge the gap between research and practice. The society encourages practitioners in the field to incorporate research best practices into the field. http://www.nabis.org/
  • RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research--Invisible Wounds Mental Health and Cognitive Care Needs of America’s Returning Veterans—The Rand Center for Military Health Policy Research released a research brief on the invisible wounds mental health and cognitive needs of our military service members and veterans. http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9336.html

PTSD Resources:

  • org—Afterdeployment.org is a website that provides wellness resources for military service members and veterans. Afterdeployment provides information on topics and assessments that affect the military community such as anxiety, PTSD, resilience and depression. http://www.afterdeployment.org/
  • American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL)—The American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law is an organization of psychiatrists that focus on the field of forensic psychiatry. AAPL focus on areas including violence, mental disability, ethics and human rights, and confidentiality. AAPL encourage research into these areas and to disseminate best practices in the field in national and regional meetings. aapl.org
  • American Psychiatric Association (APA)—The American Psychiatric Association (APA) represents over 36,000 psychiatric physicians. The APA has five professional journals that disseminate research on care and treatment of individuals with mental disorders, intellectual disabilities, and substance use disorders. The APA disseminates research to families and to psychiatrists in the field to enrich the lives of people with disabilities. psych.org
  • American Psychological Association (APA)—The American Psychological Association is an organization that represents over 137,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students that focus on the field of psychology. The APA assists professionals in understanding and evaluating the research in the field to further best practices to improve the health and lives of people in this country and around the world. apa.org
  • Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA)—The Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) is dedicated to bringing awareness and research for anxiety, depression, and stress-related disorders. The ADAA disseminates information and resources to families and professionals on the latest research on anxiety disorders. http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety
  • National Center for PTSD—The National Center for PTSD is a center within the Department of Veterans Affairs. The National Center for PTSD is a center of excellence for research and education on research and treatment of PTSD. There are seven divisions from across the country that forms The National Center for PTSD. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Veteran Resource Center---The NAMI Veterans Resource Center provides a variety of resources on treatment, resources for families, resources for news and media, and online discussion regarding PTSD affecting returning military service members and veterans. http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=ptsd
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)—The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) conducts clinical research on mental illnesses to spearhead new avenues for prevention, recovery, and cure. NIMH disseminates educational resources on mental health research to families and educators to bring awareness of the brain’s inner workings to youth. nimh.nih.gov
  • National Mental Health Association (MHA)—The Mental Health Association is an advocacy association that advocates for individuals with mental and substance use conditions to ensure that their voice is heard in regards to research in the area of mental health and mental health policies that affect legislation. nmha.org
  • Not Alone—Not Alone is an organization that offers programs, resources and services to veterans and military service members with PTSD and combat stress. Not Alone provides a confidential and anonymous community in which veterans and military service members can access mental health resources and information. http://www.massvetsadvisor.org/details/10756/Not_Alone_ 

Other Mental Health Resources:

  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)—The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is an organization that is designed to assist and improve the lives of individuals with mood disorders. There is a strong grassroots network that enables DBSA to have about 1,000 patient-run support groups in the United States. DBSA has provides free educational publications on their website that have been reviewed by patients. DBSA has Spanish-language resources as well at DBSAlianza.org. http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=home
  • DoD/VA Suicide Outreach Resources for Suicide Prevention—The Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs have provided a website that provides resources for suicide prevention for military service members and veterans. Resources include self-assessments, wellness library, PSA videos, educational resources, and news and reports. http://www.suicideoutreach.org/
  • net--Make the Connection is a public awareness campaign brought by the Department of Veterans Affairs to encourage veterans to reach to other veterans and their families. The website is a one-stop resource for veterans and families can explore and research information about physical and mental health conditions. http://maketheconnection.net/
  • The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy (ABCT)—The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy (ABCT) is a professional organization that promotes behavioral and cognitive therapy in treating several psychological and mental health disorders. The ABCT provides information and resources for professionals, educators, and students interested in learning about this type of treatment. http://abct.org/Public/?m=mPublic&fa=dPublic
  • Veterans Chat and Veterans Crisis Line—The Veterans Crisis Line is for veterans, family/friend, active duty/reserve & guard that are facing a personal crisis. The crisis line and online chat is confidential can be used 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. The crisis line is available for any type of crisis situation. http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ChatTermsOfService.aspx

 

ADDITIONAL WEBSITES:

Able Forces, Inc.

  • AbleForces, Inc. is a veteran-owned non-profit organization providing professional, career-oriented employment exclusively to wounded warriors and veterans with disabilities. ableforces.org
  • The National Resource Directory is a website that connects military service members and student veterans and their families to resources and information on variety of topics such as employment, education and training, and housing. https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/nrd

Student Veterans of America

  • Student Veterans of American provides military veterans with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and following graduation. studentveterans.org
  • The mission of the National Veterans Center is to provide career-oriented employment and community-based job preparation training to Veterans with significant disabilities, with an emphasis on Wounded Warriors and Disabled Veterans living with Physical Disabilities, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Traumatic Brain Injury. http://www.nationalveteranscenter.org

 Wounded to Work Institute

  • The Wounded to Work Institute provides education and support to employers around the world who have an equal desire to provide education and career training to military personnel who have been injured in the service of their country. woundedtowork.org
  • The Wounded Warrior Project fosters the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded warriors in our nation’s history. woundedwarriorproject.org.

Wounded Warrior Project

  • The Wounded Warrior Project fosters the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded warriors in our nation’s history. woundedwarriorproject.org.

 

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