Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Supported Education for Returning Veterans with PTSD and Other Mental Disorders

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Supported Education for Returning Veterans with PTSD and Other Mental Disorders

Article excerpt

Pursuit of a post-secondary education by a large segment of our society's young adult population is a relatively recent phenomenon that occurred after World War II. It was spurred on by the GI Bill as a funding source to the large population of returning veterans at that time (Angrist, 2011). The recently enacted post 9/11 GI Bill is intended to restore this financial aid mechanism to close to the benefit levels of the original GI Bill (Hall, 2009; McChesney, 2008), with a view to supporting the stated educational goals of the all-volunteer enlistees and the rehabilitation of wounded warriors through educational attainment leading to employability. This paper explores trends in the provision of rehabilitation services to that segment of college-bound veterans who are returning from war with PTSD--declared the signature injury of current conflicts (Tanelian & Jaycox, 2008).

Since the psychiatric deinstitutionalization era of the 1970's, psychosocial rehabilitation programs (PRPs) in this country have focused on the persistently and severely mentally ill population (SPMI). PRPs usually take the form of day programs, clubhouses, residential rehabilitation, and vocational rehabilitation (International Center for Clubhouse Development, 2001; Smith-Osborne, 2005).

A less common form of PRP, but one which may have great salience for today's veterans, is the supported education program, which is designed to assist persons with SPMI in pursuing postsecondary education (Gilbert, R., Heximer, S., Jaxon, D., & Bellamy, C., 2004; Hain & Gioia, 2004; Megivern, Anderson, Wentworth, Barnhart, & Howard, 2004; Megivern, Pellerito, & Mowbray, 2003; Mowbray, Bybee, & Collins, 2004). Supported education programs often begin in self-contained classes and then progress to inclusion settings, or provide mobile advocacy and case management services on-campus (Cook & Solomon, 1993; Sullivan, Nicolellis, Stanley, & MacDonald-Wilson, 1993).

For the SPMI population, supported education has usually been funded and initiated as one component of full-service psychosocial rehabilitation programs, within psychiatric hospitals with large young adult/adolescent caseloads, or by colleges in collaboration with local community mental health agencies and funded by state mental health department grants. Sustaining resilience and recovery-oriented programs like supported education has been difficult within the current managed behavioral healthcare insurance environment, which maintains the traditional focus on symptom reduction (Hoffman & Mastrianni, 1991;. Mowbray, Brown, Furlong-Norman, & Soydan, 2002).

In developing supported education for current veterans, it is important to consider that the most important incentives to join the U.S. military service under today's All Voluntary Force (AVF) are to secure first, vocational/technical training from the active duty assignment, and second, post-service educational benefits (Angrist, 2011). In fact, veterans' educational benefits are the largest federal program for student financial aid in America (Angrist, 2011). Active duty benefits include academic credits awarded for military service, military coursework, military scholarships, and the Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill (Ali the Benefits of Service, 2005).

Historically, the end of military conscription was associated with lower levels of pre-service education among persons entering active duty military service (Harris, 1976) until the first Gulf War era. Several studies have suggested that, although the use of veteran educational benefits increases AVF veterans' lifetime educational attainment by about 1.4 years, they are experiencing truncation of their work trajectories due to several factors associated with military service (Angrist, 1993; Angrist, 1998; Angrist & Johnson, 2000; Angrist, 2011; Autor, Duggan, & Lyle, 2011). During active duty, their deployment is associated with a reduction in employment rates among their wives due to child care responsibilities. …

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