Adapting to civilian life after a time spent overseas in service can be an intimidating and even overwhelming process. When home doesn’t feel like home because you’ve changed so much it makes adjusting feel insurmountable, especially so when committing to new, life changing, experiences such as furthering your education. I know this as a combat veteran who served as a staff sergeant in the Army and now as a new McDaniel student. Veteran students tend to be older with a different set of experiences so finding a social niche is not always easy. It can be difficult to relate to the younger traditional students. This adjustment is even more strenuous if you are dealing with inner struggles such as post traumatic stress disorder.
This is why I, along with other McDaniel staff members, am spearheading a veterans’ lounge/resource center here on the Hill. This will be a place to connect with other likeminded people with similar backgrounds as well as a place where you can get all your veteran benefit information and guidance to the resources you need. More importantly this will be a place where student veterans help other student veterans. Dependents of veterans are welcome too, because it’s not only the veteran who returns back with adapting hardships, but their loved ones as well. Share your experiences as a student and veteran with others to help strengthen yourself, your fellow veterans, and McDaniel as a place that welcomes those who have served.
Don’t think there are many of us? There are 46 veterans and veteran dependents in the graduate and undergraduate programs here at McDaniel. And we, hopefully, will be a growing number as McDaniel becomes outfitted with the proper resources.
Student veterans are needed in order to get started, so we need to become aware of each other and connect as a community. McDaniel staff members who are veterans are welcomed as well. Even if you’re not sure this is something you would consider or you feel you might not be a fitting member, contact me and we can go over what this program can mean for you and how you can participate –this program’s mission will be to adapt to the veteran. If you have served or a close loved one has served please contact me so we get our place on the Hill. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Currently, MD vet centers can help with counseling for vets and their families. The closest one to McDaniel is:
Baltimore Vet Center
Commerce Centre East
1777 Reisterstown Rd.
For other locations contact myself (email@example.com) or Rose Blizzard (firstname.lastname@example.org), the VA Certifying Official here at McDaniel, and we can get you connected to the help you need. Also, our Wellness Center (410-857-2243) has a staff willing and waiting to help any student at school, veteran or otherwise, cope with stresses and anxieties.
An existing McDaniel program, founded by our artist in residence Walt Michael, that has been helping veterans for the last year is Common Ground and their veterans’ initiative program. In their mission for human tolerance through expression, Common Ground encourages dialogue and understanding through music and the arts, helping veterans connect to each other and civilians that in turn help create and bond a pluralistic community. Anyone can join this summer program that seems to have ducked under the campus radar,
“I just wish students would know about this program,” Michael said. “You can earn 4 credits in one summer course.” Check out the Common Ground veteran’s initiative during Traditions Week (June 30th-July 5th and July 7th-12th) and other courses at commongroundonthehill.org.
For non-veteran students who want to help, get those you know who are veterans involved and let them know a place is being established for them on the Hill! Or, hey, register for a Traditions Week course and become involved with veterans from all over the country! Or you can donate to the veterans’ initiative program directly to help generate scholarships for veterans at the Common Ground webpage.
Thank you to those that have served, their families and those who are helping veterans everyday to feel at home.