CAPS would like to welcome all student veterans! We recognize and appreciate the sacrifices you have made, and value the diverse life experiences you bring to this campus. You are a vital part of our community.
Although you were probably excited to return home, you may have not been able to anticipate some of the challenges and differences leaving the military identity and constant “survival mode” behind. You are being asked to change behaviors that are ingrained from military life and may have helped you survive. Some of these include: being on constant alert, expecting others to obey directions without questions, being suspicious of others, acting first and asking questions later, keeping your emotions in check, and developing a different identity other than as military personnel.
Though it will likely take time to adjust to this transition, there are some tips that may be useful:
- Understand that this process will take time. Pace yourself.
- Try developing a daily schedule to help you adjust to the increased amount of options now available to you.
- Try to find others to share your feelings with. This may be family, friends, or even other veterans who have similar experiences.
- Pay attention to your physical including getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising.
- Identify your passions, hobbies, and values. This may help you to establish a different identity than that of military personnel.
- Be prepared to receive questions about your experience and try to decide ahead of time how you will respond to them.
- Strengthen your family relationships. Roles may have changed in your absence, and if so, be open and honest in communicating any necessary changes.
- Limit your use of alcohol and other substances. Using these increases your risk of depression, insomnia, relationship issues, and academic difficulties.
If you are still experiencing difficulties, please read on about how CAPS can help you!
How can CAPS help me?
Our clinicians understand the difficulties you may experience adjusting to civilian life. We have seen numerous veterans over the years, and are equipped to help you manage your challenges, be it personal, relational, financial, etc. At CAPS, we believe that seeking help is a sign of strength. If our staff cannot provide the resources which you seek, we will refer you to someone in the community who can better address your needs.
What are some specific topics CAPS can help me with?
College is challenging for everyone, but as a veteran, you may face some unique challenges. CAPS can help you if you are having difficulty adjusting, need to learn better time management skills/study habits, or if you are having difficulty paying attention in class and concentrating on your work.
You may have more bills now that you have left the service. Learning to manage your finances on a limited budget can be frustrating. The Veterans Services Office has information about your educational benefits and scholarships available. However, if you still would like to develop better money management skills, a CAPS clinician can assist you.
Depression is more than just temporary sadness or “the blues.” It can affect your mood, concentration, sleep, activity level, interests, and behavior. If you think you may be suffering from depression please contact CAPS or another mental health provider to explore your concerns. If you are still unsure of your symptoms, please visit the Department of Veteran Affairs and take their confidential, anonymous screening. Although this will not substitute for advice from your health provider, it may give you a better understanding of how your symptoms are affecting you and hopefully encourage you to seek help.
Drug and Alcohol use:
Many veterans may choose not to seek help but instead, turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their problems. Not only does this inflate the problem, but it can also create more issues academically, financially, and even with your family. Dealing with unpleasant memories from a warzone is not easy, but asking for assistance is a sign of strength, not weakness.
While overseas or in combat areas, military personnel may experience a hyper state of awareness. Bringing that down upon arriving home may be challenging. Many veterans experience anxiety being out of reach of their weapons, talking with other civilians, or even trying to plan for their future. Many keep these concerns private to avoid appearing illogical and/or weak. If you are experiencing any symptoms like these that are interfering with your daily life and even your relationships, it is time to get help. These problems are not uncommon but can have devastating effects if left untreated. To read about a returned combat veteran experiencing similar symptoms, please read Returned Combat Veteran: 'Anxiety Trumps Logic'.
Now that you’re back, you may find difficulty relating to your partner. You have different experiences, and may not be ready to share those now, or ever. Though it may take some time to transition back into your family and relationship, persistent problems can be addressed in Couples Counseling at CAPS. An unbiased, trained clinician can help you to work through your issues and understand each other better.
It is likely that you will have more freedom to make choices and plan your day now. The strict, harsh conditions of military life will no longer apply to you. While this sounds great it often leaves many veterans feeling lost and struggling to make decisions. While it may be helpful to map out a schedule and stick to a daily routine, for the time being, CAPS can help you if you are still struggling with your newfound freedom and the vastly different academic environment.
You’ve heard it all before. They briefed you about it before you left. You may not think it will happen to you. It may not. But if you are re-experiencing images, sounds, and emotions that you had during combat for more than one month, you may be experiencing PTSD. If you have a concern that you are experiencing one or more symptoms of PTSD, a CAPS clinician will be able to help you address these symptoms, or refer you to another resource if appropriate.
This is not an exhaustive list of topics that can be addressed at CAPS; these are just a few of the challenges that affect veterans. Please feel free to come for any other topic you do not see addressed above.
If you have experienced suicidal thoughts or military sexual trauma, please contact a mental health provider immediately. CAPS clinicians are available to help. Please call us at 713-743-5454 to schedule an initial consultation.
My students in my classes do not support the war. How do I handle classroom Discussions?
Social and political discussions can frustrate veterans, as some class members may express viewpoints that do not support the ongoing wars. While it is not in good practice to avoid these conversations, it is vital that veterans feel that their viewpoint is heard and understood. More importantly, you may also wish to distinguish between a government’s role and a serviceman or woman’s role in these events. If you do not feel as though you are given a chance to share your views and experiences, you may wish to speak with your professor. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, consider consulting with a CAPS clinician as to how to approach the topic.
Who will know about my sessions?
CAPS’ clinicians take every possible precaution to ensure the privacy of your records. Except under very unique circumstances, your information will only be shared with your written consent. Your clinician will be able to provide you with further details.
What other resources are available to me?
The Veterans Services Office has a wealth of information and resources available to you. Please check them out for information about events, programs, education benefits, employment opportunities, and more.
The Justin Dart, Jr. Student Accessibility Center is available if you suffer from any mental or physical impairment. Please contact them for more information about accommodations that can be made to help you succeed at UH.
For more information or support, please visit:
Family & Loved Ones of Veterans
It may not be easy at first when your veteran comes home. Familial roles may have shifted in his/her absence, and it may take some time to adjust and get to know your family member again. However, there are some behaviors that may be potential warning signs of serious problems. You are in an ideal position to notice issues and find help for your veteran immediately. While you cannot force him/her to get help, you can encourage it. If you are unsure of how to approach the topic, please contact a CAPS clinician for a consultation. Together, you can map out a strategy.
For other information about veterans and their families, please visit: