Many returning military vets bound for college

By Susanne M. Schafer

Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 4 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Some veterans may be wounded or suffer from post-traumatic stress, Pettus noted. She said universities should be able to help them use the many technologies that assist in reading, hearing, or communicating in the classroom. Some veterans may need to bring service dogs with them, or need to carry a reduced course load, she added.

What academia does to help with that transition will be key, experts say.

"We want to help them transition into school. We want to help them stay there and then get out of school, and find jobs," said Lawrence Braue, the director of Veteran Services at the University of South Florida, one of several specialists planning to address the three-day conference.

Braue said he retired from the Army after 27 years in uniform and began to work with veterans at the University of South Florida about four years ago. Initially his office had four staff members, but it has grown to a full time staff of seven, has added a full-time Veterans Administration benefits adviser, and has about 18 part-time staffers.

In recent years, the veteran population at his university has grown from about 500 to 600 veterans to more than 1,500 now, he said. And the key to attracting them, and helping them succeed, has been gathering people together who can give veterans the help they need, Braue said.

"We set up a one-stop shop," Braue said, a center populated with people who understood the complex medical and financial benefit systems that they must navigate in order to pay for their education.

Braue said many vets also need help with academic issues, and they are often loathe to seek help.

"My advice to other schools will be to not just set up a veteran's center, set up a full-service veterans center," he said.

Associated Press writer Bruce Smith in Charleston, S.C., contributed to this report. Susanne M. Schafer can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/susannemarieap

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