Many who leave the military decide to take advantage of the GI Bill and other education benefits in their post-military careers through enrollment in higher education degree or certificate programs. This transition to civilian life can be challenging, and adjusting to academic life — especially with a traumatic brain injury — can add additional challenges and stress. A major challenge for student veterans with TBI is their lack of knowledge of how to access services at college campuses, or that help is even available.
The following resources represent a sample of many resources that can help veterans succeed as they transition from military to student life, while dealing with the symptoms of TBIs.
Tips for Success (Self-advocacy and peer support)
AfterDeployment.org: A behavioral health resource that was created to support service members, their families, and veterans with common post-deployment challenges. Contributors include leading behavioral health experts from the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, as well as civilian agencies. For information, go to www.afterdeployment.org.
American Veterans with Brain Injuries (AVBI): AVBI was organized in 2004 to offer support to the families of American service members and veterans who have suffered brain injuries. Since 2006, AVBI has offered a web-based peer support network and information resource. For information, go to www.avbi.org.
CEMM Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): This website is developed by the Center of Excellence for Medical Multimedia (CEMM) and provides an informative and sensitive exploration of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), including information for patients, family members, and caregivers. Topics include types and symptoms of brain injury, TBI treatment and recovery, and helpful insights about the potential long-term effects of brain injury. For information, go to www.traumaticbraininjuryatoz.org.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Vet Center Programs: The Vet Centers are a system of community-based counseling centers that are staffed by small multidisciplinary teams of providers, many of whom are combat veterans themselves. Vet Center staff is available toll-free during normal business hours at 1.800.905.4675 (Eastern) and 1.866.496.8838 (Pacific). They provide readjustment counseling and outreach services to all returning soldiers and veterans who served in any combat zone. Services also are available to family members for military-related issues.
There are 232 community-based Vet Centers located in all states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information, go to www.vetcenter.va.gov.
Military OneSource: Sponsored by the Department of Defense, Military OneSource provides resources to help military families face everyday challenges. The support services offer 24/7 personal non-medical counseling services online, via telephone, or face-to-face. For information, call 1.800.342.9647 or go to www.militaryonesource.mil.
National Veterans Foundation (NVF): A national, nonprofit, non-governmental organization of veterans helping veterans and their families. Call their hotline to speak with a trained veteran 1.888.777.4443, or request assistance from a counselor. For more information, go to www.nvf.org.
National Resource Directory (NRD): A website that connects wounded warriors, service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers to programs and services that support them. NRD provides access to services and resources at the national, state and local levels to support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration. Visitors can find information on a variety of topics including education. Go to www.woundedwarriorresourcecenter.com/.
Student Veterans of America (SVA): A nonprofit coalition of student veterans groups on more than 265 college campuses nationwide that provides peer-to-peer networks for veterans attending those schools. SVA coordinates campus activities, provides information unique to veterans and facilitates the transition process to help support veteran success in higher education. Campus chapters can be found at www.studentveterans.org/?page=Chapter_Map.
Veterans Crisis Line: This service connects veterans who are facing a crisis, as well as their families and friends, with qualified VA responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and choose option 1. They also can chat online or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24/7. Calls can be referred to local Suicide Prevention Coordinators and other VA providers who specialize in TBI. For information, go to www.veteranscrisisline.net/.
Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN): This is a network of medical centers, vet centers and outpatient clinics offering primary and specialized care. Veterans can contact these facilities for additional support during the return to school transition. The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains lists of contact information by region. For information, go to www2.va.gov/directory/guide/division_flsh.asp?dnum=1.
Veterans Outreach Center: The independent, community-centered nonprofit provides one-stop supportive services to veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning National Guard and Reserve military personnel and their families. The center offers free programs and services, such as education benefit counseling and veteran-to-veteran mentoring. For information, go to www.veteransoutreachcenter.org.
Warrior Care Blog: The blog is a portal for various resources and programs to support military members of all branches and their families. The office was established to ensure wounded, ill, injured and transitioning service members receive high quality care and seamless transition support through proactive leadership, responsive policy, effective oversight and interagency collaboration. To access the blog, go to warriorcare.dodlive.mil.