“For some veterans, reintegration can take a couple of months and for others it may take years,” Jennifer Morzenti, Eugene Vet Center reintegration counselor, said.
Morzenti spoke at the first in a series of brown bag lunches being held on campus. “There are still Vietnam veterans that have difficulty being in some civilian situations such as being in the middle of a restaurant, because they are very hyper-vigilant and with the sounds, there is too much chaos going on around them. They cannot focus on one thing,” she said. “Having a safe place to go such as the Veterans Center is important. Just to have a safe quiet place helps out a lot with anxiety. Loud noises and even crowds just milling around, can be triggering for veterans.”
Christopher Brouillette, a student who worked with the Vets Club over the summer term, agreed. He said that sometimes he wakes up thinking he needs to go on watch. Earlier this year he suffered a severe PTSD flashback with the noise of the 4th of July and the jackhammer of construction. He said it made him feel as if he might be in an ambush situation.
Brouillette said that the transitional workshop he attended lasted only three days. They talked about how to dress and write a resume. He felt this was inadequate for those trying to feel safe.
“What we heard at the Spring conference was that everyone, students, staff and faculty are really hungry to know how we can take better care of our veterans and military, because there are lots of active military with us too,” Helen Garrett, director of LCC Veterans Services, said.
The purpose of the lunch time meetings is to hold discussions in areas of interest to veterans, to raise awareness of veterans’ issues and to show a movie occasionally. The LCC Veterans Services Department is seeking input from veterans to hear what would be most helpful for them.
College finance accountant Jane Passenger asked about the possibility of classes and programs to help with the transitions that veterans have to make. She likened them to the Women In Transition program or a program that helps former prisoners to successfully navigate the system. She felt it is important to address issues that are common for veterans such as time management skills and coping with noise triggers to help them reach ‘civilian normal.’
Garrett estimated that there are a thousand veterans on campus who receive benefits per term. She is seeking a counselor to teach a much needed reintegration class, preferably a veteran who won’t be shocked when hearing veterans’ experiences. “This requires the right candidate,” she said.
How many vets do you think think are on campus?
Estimated Number of Vets: 1000
Responses were gathered from students on the Main LCC Campus