Veterans return to school, readjust to their normal lives

Laura Liera
September 10, 2009
Filed under News

With the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan occurring, many veterans
are returning home with the hope of obtaining a college education.

Michael G. Penney, supervisor of Kern County Veterans Service
Department and former U.S. Navy veteran, stated programs are
available to help veterans and their families when encountering the
hardships of returning to a normal civilian life. This facility “directs
them in the right direction,” said Penney. Services include post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) group counseling, comprehensive benefit
counseling, claim follow-up and other benefits they can assist a
veteran with.

With approximately 22,000 registered veterans under the KCVSD
and more than 200 veterans currently attending Bakersfield College,
many veterans are faced with the task of feeling out of place when
returning to school. Many veterans sit in the back of the classroom,
analyzing their surroundings and at times may not socialize with
other classmates. A veteran can suffer from PTSD and may be sensitive
to loud noises, lights or other things that would be normal to a
common person.

John “Skip” Hall, counselor for the Disabled Student Programs
and Services at Bakersfield College and former U.S. Air Force veteran,
said, “The military structure and mindset is different from the
one you come back to and culture shock happened to me.”

Programs and services as the ones KCVSD provide can help veterans
become more comfortable and become adjusted to the world they
once left and make returning to school a better experience.

Although it’s a hard transition for a veteran to make, they should
know there are places that provide help and counseling. “Our programs
are here to inform and provide help to any veteran of any past
war,” said Penney.

It’s important not only for veterans to be informed about facilities
that can provide help, but it’s important for everyone to be aware
of the hard times many veterans have to face after they return from
war.

“It’s important to help improve our understandings and how we
can all work together to help understand them,” said Hall.

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