Veterans Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month as we work with our veteran population you may here “service-connected” disability, or ACS disability. These terms are used to measure disabilities by the Office of Veterans Affairs, and Veteran Affairs Health Services:

ACS disability: A difficulty with one or more of the following: hearing, vision, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care and independent living. Please note that an ACS disability may or may not be acquired during military service.

Service-connected (SC) Disability: A disease or injury determined to have occurred during military service. The Veterans’ Administration assigns a disability rating as a percentage from 0% -100% disabled.

These two measures might not fully capture all veterans’ disabilities. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and/or depression are called the “signature” disabilities because these impairments are so common among returning veterans.

Nearly a third (29.6%, 3.5 million) of the 12 million veterans ages 21-64 report having a disability:

o    12.4% (1,495,000) report only a SC disability

o    10.5% report an ACS disability only

o    6.7% report both an ACS and a SC disability

The employment rate of veterans with disabilities is significantly lower than that of veterans without disabilities. Only about a third of veterans who report both an ACS and SC disability (32%) and only 37% of those reporting only an ACS disability are employed, compared with over three- quarters of veterans without disabilities.

When working with our veteran populations we should understand that as we have statistics, we also must ask ourselves about the stress and frustration of working with VA Health in determining that veteran’s percentage of disability, or service-connected disability We so often here about the stress of transition to civilian life but, we don’t always hear about the time it takes for a service member to fully understand how a disability may affect their day-to-day life.

Working as Advocates

As we encounter veterans in admission, bursar, or any other supportive service capacity we can remember that transitioning to civilian life, entering a postsecondary education, and navigating the post-duty health system are all very stressful endeavors within themselves. The veteran sitting in front of you may experience roadblock after roadblock on their path to your door.

In talking with one of our veteran coaches here at VetHERO (VUB homebase) he mentioned that many veterans want to hit the ground running or may go from zero to one hundred quickly. Due to their training and work environment, they may not be used to the slower and ambiguous pace of civilian life. Go slowly and outline the process of admission, financial aid, or other services you provide.

Expect them to have questions, and even been frustrated by the slower pace, or process. Veterans are classed in special populations for a reason. They need our care, support, and understanding at all levels. For more information on how to help a veteran with a service-connected disability contact us at 405.974.3967 or your institutions veteran support service team.

Activating Prior Knowledge

As adult learners and veterans we have a framework of reference for life. It may seem easy to transfer the skills you learned in the military to civilian life problem solving but, how does this help us in the classroom?

VA Benefits – VITAL Program for Mental Fitness in College

Many Veterans enter college and university life directly out of the military. This is a significant life transition, and most people need time to adjust to the new setting, culture, and experiences of campus life. This transition is more difficult for some Veterans than for others. They may need more help with physical or mental health issues or with the practical aspects of transitioning to this new environment.

Changing the Guard

2020, was a difficult time for most of us attending college. In the chaos of the last year, we saw several staff members who moved beyond STRIPES VUB. We know they will always continue the important work that we do in one way or another.

STRIPES VUB is committed to uplifting the lives of veterans as they navigate postsecondary education. We searched high and low and found a fantastic director in Kima Murry, M.S., USN

Kima comes toSTRIPES:Veterans Upward Bound from a long line of service to our country, and our community. Kima was a Gunner’s Mate in the United States Navy, after his service he attended Tulsa Community College, and graduated from Langston University. He has both his Bachelor of Applied Science in Sociology and a Master of Arts in Vocational Rehabilitation.

Kima worked for American Airlines before he became a community mental health therapist. In his time at UCO, he has worked with veterans at Veterans Upward Bound and has helped adults’ transition to college through the UCO Cares program.

contact Kima Murry at kmurry@uco.edu 

Lasting Generational Change – Part 4 ~ Final Conclusion and The Plan

You’ll notice my examples of the challenges as a first-generation college student in this series of blog posts, did not include intellectual type barriers. When I work with new clients I share this piece of advice about getting through classes, college is 10% intelligence and 90% persistence. You were accepted into your program of study, so you meet the academic criteria. Prior to moving over to STRIPES-VUB, I spent 8 years as faculty. In that entire time, I never had a student fail my class due to lack of intellectual ability. It always came down to preparation and the ability to adapt when life happened. Brushing up on your grammar and math skills is just one part of returning to the classroom. We focus so much on test scores and entrance standards, that we often overlook creating plan to build the critical resiliency skills, changes, and student supports needed to persist. New students often underestimate the amount of time needed to complete assignments, the self discipline to study outside of the classroom, fail to locate student academic support programs at the start of the semester, or make the life adjustments needed to meet their new student responsibilities. These are the things that sink students without a plan the most.

Lasting Generational Change Part 3 ~ Starting Anew, Conquering Algebra, & Battle Buddies

You would think that would be enough examples of achieving a higher education and leading through example, right? Well, fast forward 13 years. Now a family of 5, my mother realized she needed a new career. Her one college regret, was not following her initial dream to become a teacher because of the College Algebra credit requirement. It was time for a change.

Lasting Generational Change – Part 1 The Start

Generational change begins with someone deciding to take the first step on a new possibility. Beingthe first to take those steps into the unknown can have a lasting impact on the generations behind you. For the many first-generation college students, they are creating new pathways and new ways of overcoming challenges to achieve personal growth and create opportunities for future generations.