This article first appeared in the Pasadena City College Courier
May 2, 2012
By Galen Patterson-Smith
The second-ever Road Home symposium taught community college administrators and faculty across California about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and helping veterans adjust to student life on April 25 and 26.
Harold Martin, a psychology instructor, described the life of active and reserve military members. Martin explained how some veteran’s participation in wars can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
According to The Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD Is a mental health problem that can occur after someone goes through a traumatic event like war, assault, or disaster. It can also be described as a psychological conditioning to war or a ubiquitous survival mindset.
Martin described common circumstances of developing PTSD as “long elements of boredom followed by horror.”
Martin, a 20-year military veteran and admittedly afflicted by PTSD, shared stories both from his experience and those of his students who have suffered from the disorder in an effort to help the audience more clearly identify signs of PTSD in students.
“They may think they can do this, whatever it is, and keep doing the wrong thing over and over again. It’s up to us to help them,” said Martin.
Daniel Chenowith, from U.S. VETS, an organization dedicated to helping veterans, told about his experience as a psychologist working with veterans often with severe cases of PTSD. “I’m working with a group right now that, because of symptom severity, are not ready to return to campus yet,” said Chenowith.
Chenowith explained that PTSD can also come from military sexual trauma or MST.
MST is severe sexual harassment or rape within the military.
According to Chenowith, 15.1 percent of females involved in current military actions have reported cases of MST, while 0.7 percent of men have reported it.
Joseph Currier, assistant professor of clinical psychology at Fuller Seminary, discussed his experiences with PTSD by focusing on case studies and post-traumatic growth.
“Because of the wars, we’re putting our service members in positions where there are no clear moral decisions sometimes,” said Currier.
Carol Calandra, case manager at the Veterans Resource Center at PCC, and Patricia D’Orange-Martin led a workshop centered on helping other community colleges maximize veteran programs across California. The duo regaled their audience with stories of veterans near the brink of mental destruction, successfully finding meaning in life again through a hard-working group of individuals dedicated to helping veterans.
“[Veterans] sure have taught me a lot in terms of relationships,” said Calandra.