Are you transitioning into becoming a student after serving in the military? While you likely developed confidence in your ability to cope with very difficult situations in the armed services, returning to school presents different challenges. College may be difficult for many students, but veterans often have unique concerns including academic disruption due to deployment, being older than most other students, feeling misunderstood or undervalued, balancing demands of school and family, and coping with visible or invisible disabilities due to combat experience.

Academic life provides less structure than the military while requiring that students accomplish a lot. If you are struggling with attending class or learning the material, you may benefit from learning note-taking and study skills from the Center for Academic Resources (CFAR).

Do you have a disability that makes school more difficult? Disability Services for Students (DSS) can help.

If you are experiencing difficulty concentrating, feeling irritable, unmotivated, or hopeless, you may be among the 11-17% of veterans who are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other combat-related distress such as depression or anxiety. Research shows that the earlier a person addresses the symptoms of PTSD the more effectively the symptoms are reduced.

Common indicators of distress following traumatic events such as combat experience include:

  • Having recurrent intrusive memories or dreams of the traumatic event
  • Trying to avoid thinking or feeling emotions related to the traumatic event
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling depressed or numb
  • Feeling detached from other people or isolating yourself
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Having an exaggerated startle response
  • Feeling angry or irritable
  • Drinking alcohol in excess or using illegal drugs
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, or unmotivated
  • Thinking about hurting yourself or ending your life

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consider finding ways to take care of yourself, including managing your physical health, emotional and mental health, and seeking support from others. Developing and maintaining connections with others is an important part of readjusting and coping with the stress of this transition. If you are feeling alone and misunderstood, look for ways to talk with family and friends about the difficulty of feeling connected to them. You may also seek out other veterans who can relate to your experiences and the challenges of returning to civilian life. UNH Veteran’s Support can help you make those connections.

The Counseling Center is another way of finding support on campus. We are here to help you better understand what you are experiencing and improve your ability to cope. Your initial appointment provides a space for you to talk about what feels difficult for you in this transition. You can then work with the counselor to determine your next step in feeling better. Call the Center to schedule an intake appointment (862-2090/TTY: 7-1-1 or 800-735-2964 Relay NH).