From Soldier To Student: UNCG Conference Focuses On Needs Of Veterans

From Soldier To Student: UNCG Conference Focuses On Needs Of Veterans

11:21pm Feb 19, 2013
Dedrick Curtis, Veterans Service Coordinator for UNCG places U.S. flags in front of a building on campus to honor fallen soldiers during an event in November 2011.
Photo by Chris English

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro will explore what it takes to create a veteran-friendly campus during a three day conference that begins Wednesday.

Nationwide, higher education institutions are seeing an increase in student military numbers. That's because more veterans are returning home and many of them are taking advantage of the post 9/11 GI Bill that took effect in 2009.

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro has seen its military student population nearly double from around 260 in 2008 to around 500 this year.

Dedrick Curtis, Veterans Service Coordinator for UNCG, served in the U.S. Navy for six years. He says making the transition from military soldier to student can be challenging.

“Veterans are coming from an organization and environment that is extremely structured and you know exactly what is expected of you and what your role is and if you don't someone tells you very quickly. It can be difficult when you come from that environment to a university, particularly a liberal arts school like UNCG where you set your own schedules and you have a wide variety of teaching styles among faculty,” says Curtis.

Two years ago, the university created a task force to examine its outreach to veteran students and their families. Curtis says the university has made changes to meet the needs of these students.

A three day conference will be held at UNCG Feb. 20-22 to discuss community outreach and support for military students. Wednesday’s event includes a screening of the Emmy award winning film “Where Soldiers Come From.” A panel discussion will follow the event.

Tom Matyok is an assistant professor in the university’s Conflict and Peace Studies program and an Army veteran himself. He says the community discussion will continue Thursday and Friday with various workshops.

“We have a morning session, the impact of stress and distress and people will be looking at transition coping emotional response, suicide, traumatic brain injury and PTSD and disabilities. On Friday, we will be looking more specifically at the policy side and service side of the university,” says  Matyok.

David Cortright, director of policy studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, will deliver the keynote address on Thursday. The film and speech are free and open to the public. All conference events are free for students and veterans.

Last fall, Military Times Edge magazine named UNCG a “Best for Vets” school. UNCG was the only public university in North Carolina included in the annual ranking.

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