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From Soldier to Student: Making the Transition to UT

Veterans Topics

Combat Stress

Self-Care Checklist

Resources for Student Veterans

Returning Veteran Students Information for Faculty & Staff

Homecoming is a Process

Homecoming is a process, not an event. Whether returning from active combat or Homeland Security missions, the return to a university atmosphere from active duty is almost always a severe shock to the system.

It may feel strange to return to school to find that others are going through their everyday motions, while you just returned from a life-altering experience. Relationships change quickly, and many old friends may have graduated or moved on when you return. Readjustment means overcoming obstacles and making small but important changes. A vital change for the returning veteran is allowing yourself to relax and be more patient with those around you.

Each individual will experience their own obstacles. Some of these may include:

  • combat stress reactions
  • boredom, missing the thrill or adrenaline that's not part of the usual college experience.
  • low frustration tolerance or impatience. Rules may seem meaningless, and simple questions or comments may cause unexpected reactions.
  • frustration over missed or lost time due to length of deployment.
  • difficulty concentrating, including recurring thoughts of war experiences or anxiety around finding meaning in activities.
  • high alertness, difficulty relaxing or finding safety in your current environment.
  • feeling out of place or having difficulty developing new relationships. You may find it very hard to feel close to others or connect with people who haven't gone through the same experiences as you.
  • anxiety about being redeployed.

Combat Stress

Combat Stress is a normal set of reactions to a trauma such as war. When feelings or issues related to the trauma are not dealt with, they can lead to problems readjusting to community life. A delayed stress reaction may surface after many years and include some or all of the following problems:
  • anger, irritability, and rage
  • feeling nervous
  • depression
  • difficulty trusting others
  • feeling guilt over acts committed or witnessed, failing to prevent certain events, or merely having survived while others did not
  • hyperalertness and startle reactions
  • feeling grief or sadness
  • having thoughts and memories that will not go away
  • isolation and alienation from others
  • loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • low tolerance to stress
  • problems with authority
  • problems feeling good about oneself
  • nightmares
  • substance abuse
  • trouble sleeping
  • anxiety
  • paranoia

Self-Care Checklist

  • Be cautious about taking a heavy courseload initially. Ease into it, and try not to overwhelm yourself.
  • Take notes to help you stay focused on course materials and lectures.
  • Get involved in school activities as a way to break down barriers between you and your classmates.
  • Take advantage of school services available to you, including academic assistance and counseling services.
  • Talk to the Veterans Representative in the Office of the Registrar to utilize your veterans benefits: call (512) 475-7540.
  • Limit exposure to traumatic information (including watching news, reading the paper, etc.).
  • Talk with peers and/or professionals.
  • Recognize that others may not agree with you or understand your service in the military.
  • Take care of your physical needs. Get plenty of sleep and rest, eat a good diet (at least 3 nutritious meals a day), and get exercise (physical exercise is great in reducing stress).
  • Decrease unhealthy behaviors such as using alcohol, nicotine, or illegal substances.
  • Have fun! Engage in healthy, pleasurable activities.
  • Focus outside of yourself and give back to the community (volunteer work, etc.).
  • Seek spiritual fulfillment through prayer, meditation, fellowship, etc.
  • Follow a daily schedule to help yourself stay organized.
  • Set reasonable boundaries for yourself.
  • Pay attention to your reaction to things that happen in ordinary life situations. Learn to recognize the physical and emotional signs of stress.
  • Visit the Counseling & Mental Health Center!

Returning Veteran Students Information for Faculty & Staff

Resources for Student Veterans

At the University of Texas:

Dean of Students:
(512) 471-5017

Counseling & Mental Health Center:

  • individual and group counseling
  • psychiatric assessment
  • referrals to both on- and off-campus resources
  • MindBody lab for stress reduction
  • CMHC Crisis Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 512-471-CALL (2255) (UT Students Only)

In Austin:

Austin Vet Center (Readjustment Counseling Services) 512-416-1314

  • individual and group counseling
  • marital and family counseling
  • bereavement counseling
  • sexual trauma counseling and referral
  • alcohol/drug assessments
  • assistance in applying for VA benefits

Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System


Special programs include:

  • substance abuse
  • post traumatic stress disorder
  • sleep lab (Killeen, Texas)
  • women veterans clinic (Cedar Park)

Texas National Guard State Benefits Advisor
Travis Co. Veterans Services Office
Texas Veterans Commission

On the web:

Information on benefits for veterans:

PTSD Alliance
VA's National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

UT Counseling and Mental Health Center

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