The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | The overlooked challenges of student veterans

The University of Iowa takes a big step toward supporting student veterans’ mental health. It’s time for more schools to follow their lead.
Reba Zatz
Members of Iowa Veterans ride a Jeep during the 2019 Homecoming Parade on Oct. 18 in Downtown Iowa City.

Student veterans are not your typical college students.

For many, their military experience leaves them with a need for personalized and unique support and counseling. It’s important to recognize and effectively address the mental health needs of student-veterans and the impact that mental health can have on their well-being and academic success.

Recently, in a commendable effort to improve veteran mental health outcomes, the University of Iowa has become the first Big Ten school to offer embedded counselors for student veterans.

According to Tara Lamb, the UI director of academic resources, “having someone who has lived that life and has come from that military background has been incredibly resourceful.”

We need to recognize that mental health problems can affect the everyday lives and academic experience of many student-veterans to offer students real solutions.

Of the approximately 19 million veterans across the U.S., at least 1 million received GI Bill benefits for higher education programs as of 2020. At the UI alone, there are approximately 608 veteran and active-military students and 1,624 military-connected students.

While the choice to join the U.S. military varies from homelessness, job stability, or want of purpose, the fact remains that those who have left the military have a much harder time leaving the traumatic experiences behind with their experiences.

The purpose of veteran mental health services is to learn how to process your own emotions and how to deal with previous or current events. According to Chuck Xander, a licensed mental health counselor at the UI, “It does take a while to process what is going on and the most effective tool that we can offer is support.”

Despite benefits, many veterans report having concerns about confidentiality and the stigma surrounding mental health that prevent them from seeking help. Even veterans with secure access to mental health resources often struggle with accepting the help.

According to Megan Schuler, a researcher at the Rand Corp in a article, some outcomes of military service include underrecognized or undertreated behavioral health conditions.

“Bringing these to light can help establish that need along veteran populations, and hopefully raise awareness and connect folks to treatment,” Schuler said.

Mental health is important for everyone, especially those who have witnessed traumatic events such as war. More universities need to provide and bring awareness to veteran and military students with suicide prevention programs as well as mental health clinics and substance abuse services.

Lamb’s ambitious vision to expand the program and introduce additional opportunities for students to access mental health resources includes organizing educational sessions to equip students with effective stress management techniques and help them understand how to cope with their emotions.

By proactively addressing mental health concerns, Lamb aims to create a supportive environment that fosters student well-being and academic success.

The UI is the first university to take a big step toward helping veterans with invisible wounds that need unique care. By working together, we can enhance the quality of care that we provide to those who have dedicated their lives to serving our country.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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