Back to school: Singular struggles for student veterans

Jeff Severns Guntzel
Senior reporter
Public Insight Network

We’ve turned our attention to the student veteran experience here at the Public Insight Network lately. We’re particularly interested in the particular struggles of veterans affected by the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

(If you are a student veteran and you’re willing to share your experiences, you can do that here:  Help us cover the student veteran experience.) 

We know that many veterans are now pursuing higher education with help from the G.I. Bill. While the Department of Veterans Affairs does not track graduation rates for veterans, we’ve heard from plenty of veterans who have struggled with school — and from others who even dropped out — as a result of neurological or mental health issues connected to their service.

What can some of those health issues look like? Buried in a 2009 American Journal of Psychiatry article [PDF] is a chart that makes plain the symptoms of PTSD and TBI, as well as the vexing places where they overlap.

Image from American Journal of Psychiatry (2009; 166:768–776)


It requires no measure of mental gymnastics to see how these symptoms might get in the way of effective study. If you or somebody you know has firsthand experience with this, we would very much like to hear from you.