The Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) recognizes and honors the sacrifices of those who have served and are serving in the United States Armed Forces. Transition to civilian life can lead to various challenges, including academic, social, physical, financial, emotional, and relational. While many returning soldiers will make a successful return to civilian life, research indicates that as many as 1 in 3 returning veterans may experience serious psychological distress. The psychological reactions to the extreme stress of the war zone environment frequently cause an array of symptoms and reactions in returning veterans.
Common symptoms may include the following:
- Recurring and intrusive memories and/or dreams of the event
- Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were happening
- Intense distress in response to cues resembling some aspects of the event
- Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations related to the event
- Diminished interest in participating in important or previously enjoyable activities
- Feeling detachment or estrangement from others
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Irritability or outbursts of anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hypervigilance and being easily startled by noises and movements
- Abuse of alcohol or other drugs
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts, feelings or behaviors
- Feelings of paranoia without any real evidence that others have ill intentions
If you experience one or more of the above signs of distress, your academic performance, daily functioning, relationships or your general enjoyment of life may be negatively impacted.
Whether you have returned from serving abroad or are preparing to be deployed, we want to inform you of support services available at CAPS that may help to ease the transition. CAPS offers free, brief counseling and related services to TCNJ students. Services are confidential; no record of counseling appears on the student’s permanent academic record. Our office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can complete a Request for Services Form to schedule an appointment.
You may also find the following on-line resources helpful:
- www.va.gov –Department of Veterans Affairs
- www.mentalhealth.va.gov/MENTALHEALTH/College/students.asp – VA’s resource page for veteran students and their families
- www.ncptsd.va.gov – National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (affiliated with the VA)
- www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index/shtml — National Institute of Mental Health: A discussion of PTSD symptoms, treatments and resources
- http://www.studentveterans.org/ – Student Veterans of America (SVA) is a coalition of student veterans groups from college campuses across the United States
- www.communityofveterans.org – The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the Ad Council teamed up to develop a multimedia public service ad campaign designed to give returning veterans a way to help each other through the unique issues they face in their transition home.
- www.giveanhour.org – Give an Hour is a non-profit organization that provides free mental health services to US military personnel and families affected by the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan
- www.jmu.edu/counselingctr/resources/veterans.html — James Madison University’s webpage for student veterans
You may find that with the passage of time and being in a safe, supportive environment, any symptoms and reactions you experience may diminish on their own. However, when symptoms and reactions persist or interfere with daily life and functioning, professional help may be required. The earlier one seeks professional counseling, the greater the likelihood that one’s issues will be resolved and that academic and personal goals will not be hindered. Therefore, do not hesitate to contact us at (609) 771-2247 if we can be of support and assistance in your transition.