The next mission:
Veterans on the GI Bill and in the classroom

Richard Gilbert was a Marine Corps scout sniper who served in Iraq. After a handful of serious injuries (including traumatic brain injury), he was reassigned to the Wounded Warrior regiment in California. Now he's a veteran, and a student at the University of California-San Diego, where he fights an uphill battle to work through his TBI symptoms just to get through the school day. (Photo by Sam Hodgson for the Public Insight Network)

Richard Gilbert was a Marine Corps scout sniper who served in Iraq. Now he’s a veteran, and a student at the University of California-San Diego, where he fights an uphill battle to work through the symptoms of his traumatic brain injury just to get through the school day. (Photo by Sam Hodgson for the Public Insight Network)

As the service members who fought in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars return home and become veterans, many are choosing higher education as a next step in life after war.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill — the most comprehensive of its kind in history — has made that option more accessible than ever.

But for veterans who head to school after their service, the signature injuries of the conflicts they served in — PTSD and TBI — paired with the singular life experiences they bring along with them, can pose significant hurdles in adapting to student life.

In a collaboration with Southern California Public Radio, we explore the challenges, services and connections student veterans are finding on Southern California’s campuses as they make the transition from combat to classroom.

 


 

57549_619786f10c77253041bb80b5b5ba0796_1e248951143023fb09415a56216afa41PART 1 [broadcast April 1, 2013]
Some veterans leaving military struggle to succeed in college
Twenty-three-year-old Desiree Escarcida enrolled in college one week after leaving the Marines. She struggled mightily at first, dropping out of one school before finding a more welcoming environment at Fullerton College.

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PART 2 [broadcast April 2, 2013]
Taking brain injuries from the battlefield to the classroom
TBI symptoms read like a list of all the things that can keep you from succeeding in school: It causes trouble with concentration, cognitive processing, reading comprehension, and memory. In the classroom, they can spell disaster.

 

 

 

PART 3 [broadcast April 3, 2013]
Student veterans and a space of their own: A tale of two schools

When Saddleback College’s veterans center opened in 2009, it was one of only three in California. Today, there are 14 in Orange County alone. In the meantime, the University of Southern California’s veterans still have their meetings in vacant classrooms twice a month, as they work toward establishing a space of their own on campus.

 


 

Mapping America’s student veteran centers

We've heard from student veterans over and over again that having a physical space on campus is invaluable to navigating life back on campus. But not every school, no matter how veteran-friendly, has a dedicated student veteran center. Does yours?

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Taking brain injury from combat to campus

Traumatic brain injury often causes trouble with concentration, reading comprehension and memory -- the very things that would likely prevent academic success. For veterans attempting to navigate the rhythms of college life, they can spell disaster.

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When the GI Bill isn’t enough

Student veterans tell us how much they love the benefits offered to them in the Post-9/11 GI Bill. But those benefits still can't guarantee success -- especially on campuses unprepared to serve students returning from war.

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Student veterans: What’s your story?

We want your help telling the story of the student veteran experience. Tell us what it's been like to transition from the military to the classroom. What's been easy? What's been difficult? How is the GI Bill working for you?

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Counting student veterans, finally

Nearly 5 years after the Post-9/11 GI Bill went into effect, there's no authoritative data on its progress. But this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs and student-veteran groups are pairing up to change that.

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