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Student veterans discuss difficulties of transition

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The Southern Colorado Press Club presented “From Soldier to Student; perspectives on the transition” Monday, and the presentation featured speakers Craig Staley and Paul Hendricksen. Both men are students at CSU-Pueblo and officers of the campus chapter of the Student Veterans of America.

Staley is a senior mass communications major who joined the Navy in January 2000. While in the Navy, he worked as a journalist, television news producer and radio personality.

During his time on active duty, Japan and Italy are among the places he was stationed, before he was honorably discharged in 2004.

As a CSU-Pueblo student, Staley is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and has made the dean’s list in 2013 and 2014.

Hendricksen is a senior majoring in computer information systems. He joined the Army in June 2005 and worked as a scout sniper, heavy weapons squad leader, assault squad leader and a platoon sergeant.

He was deployed to Iraq and then to Afghanistan, each time for 15 months. He was honorably discharged in 2012.

The Student Veterans of America is a nonprofit professional association, and the CSU-Pueblo chapter was able to get its nonprofit status because of its membership with the Pueblo Veterans Council.

Hendricksen said that this semester, enrollment of veterans was roughly cut in half from approximately 500 to 250 students. He feels that there is not a real support base on campus.

“We would like to see the faculty and staff educated to identify with veterans and to understand the issues related to the military. Some issues are sensitive and related to deployments and the veteran’s personal experiences. Think of veterans as a race of people, there are sensitive subjects and reasons that we are how we are,” Hendricksen said.

Hendricksen has experienced problems getting his military experience to translate into credits that can be applied toward his degree. He would like to see university personnel educated on how to better translate military experience into college credit.

He would also like professors to be trained on how to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and social anxiety in the classroom.

Hendricksen has personal experience with PTSD that causes severe test anxiety in the classroom. Working with his professors, he has found that if he takes the tests at a different time, separately from other students, his anxiety lessens, and he does better on the tests.

“We’re not asking for special treatment, we are just asking for support,” Staley added. “We think there is a lot of potential for CSU-Pueblo to become even more military friendly. But we need more communication between the president’s office and the faculty. We definitely need the veteran student body to be more proactive in the direction of their own education.”