Friday, May 10, 2013

San Diego State University Showing Its Commitment to Veterans

San Diego State University student veterans
It's about time we give a shout out to my alma mater, San Diego State University, for its solid commitment to our veterans. The school, which manages the Veterans House, the nation's only on-campus housing facility exclusively for vets, is also home to the Joan and Art Barrons Veterans Center, which serves approximately 1,200 veterans, reservists and active duty and 2,500 of their dependents in a variety of ways. 

And there's more: This morning, the university announced it will offer two new classes for the summer session that are designed to help veterans and their loved ones cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other stress-related issues. 

These are hugely important classes because, as I have reported in The Daily Beast, at least 30 percent of all veterans of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD.

SDSU Veterans Center
The classes, which are part of the school's psychology department, seek to help understand the human experience of stress. They'll be taught by Heidi Kraftwho deployed to Iraq as a clinical psychologist in 2004, where she helped deployed Marines make sense of the violence and the pain of their experiences, and Barbara McDonaldan esteemed psychology professor at SDSU.

The two-course series, which begins May 22, is an effort to help veterans and their families, loved ones, friends, neighbors, or co-workers to cope with the traumatic experiences with which they've had to deal. The first class, “PSY496: Stress and Trauma,” will begin with the basics of how stress is defined and measured by experts, what causes it and how and why people respond to it differently. The class will also provide information on what can be done to prevent stress or reduce its effects.

The second class, “PSY496: Psychological Experience of Combat,” examines the evolution of the warrior and combat stress injuries, positive and traumatic aspects of combat, the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, current treatment modalities, and importance of recognizing and celebrating post-trauma grow.

The two courses build on each other, and all students are encouraged to enroll in both courses concurrently. Courses are open to SDSU students (1 unit credit for each course) as well as to the general public through Open University enrollment in SDSU’s College of Extended Studies.

“I hope to have the classes be very interactive,” Kraft said in a statement this week. “There should be a level of cathartic storytelling, a lot of discussion, with the goal of students leaving the class motivated to better understand and overcome their afflictions.”

Added McDonald, “Knowledge is a huge aspect of coping. Whether it’s having access to resources or just knowing that someone cares about you or relates to what you’re going through, that knowledge can make all the difference in successful recovery.”


  1. I am proud of my alma mater! Aztecs!

  2. veterans and their families, loved ones, friends, neighbors, or co-workers