As assistant dean of students for veterans’ services at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, retired Army Lt. Col. John Bechtol works closely with campus mental health providers, and those with Veterans Affairs locally, to ensure that the school’s 550 veteran students and 250 military dependents don’t get lost in the shuffle on the 40,000-student campus, according to an article in Military Times.
When Bechtol took his present position in 2008, the school had few mental health mechanisms in place for those returning home from war. Today there is close cooperation between his office, which is jointly operated by the dean of students and registrar offices, along with the local VA medical center, campus mental health providers and a campus veterans club.
Veterans looking for a college experience need to know: What makes for a solid, reliable campus mental health experience for veterans? Bechtol and other Madison campus experts advise.
1. Early outreach
One sign of a strong campus mental health program is a readiness to show an open door to veterans even before they arrive.
2. Quick response
When veterans seek mental health support, campus officials should be ready to respond. At Madison, this means open hours for drop-in needs throughout the weekday, no appointment necessary.
3. Coordinated support
In addition to delivering care, campus mental health services should help veterans get plugged into other local resources, including the veterans services office on campus, the local VA, and student-run veterans groups.
4. Providers who understand
Students who are prior military should seek out psychologists and social workers who have at least a basic understanding of the military mindset and have experience working with service-members struggling with such mental health conditions as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
5. Fostering success
When veterans seek mental health services on campus, it’s not just because they are grappling with issues. Often it’s because those issues are getting in the way of academic success. They need a support team that understands their priorities.
Read the full article here.