There were around 20.4 million U.S. veterans in 2016, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, representing less than 10% of the total U.S. adult population. Hundreds of thousands of veterans are battling post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. Suicide in the veteran community remains at an epidemic level, 20 per day. Many spouses feel helpless and aren’t sure how to support their loved one. And children are growing up wondering why their mother or father has changed. Trauma-focused psychotherapies and psychotropic medications may offer symptom relief, but do they address the core issues of disconnection, societal withdrawal, and living without a sense of mission and purpose?
The Nicholls State University Office of Veteran Services and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association are committed to helping combat vets find a new purpose by aiding them in more education and a healthy return to civilian life. Nicholls recently announced a new scholarship specifically for combat vets.
The January 2017 edition of JAMA Psychiatry stated that “… we have probably come about as far as we can with current dominant clinical approaches. Other strategies are urgently needed to effectively address remaining research and clinical gaps concerning the health care needs of combat veterans”. Traditional mental health programs focus primarily on symptom reduction and a lot of times miss the opportunity to identify and facilitate personal growth as a result of veterans’ struggles. A new, research-based approach to trauma that has been studied by psychologists for the past three decades called Posttraumatic Growth, or PTG for short, explores how people who endure psychological struggle following adversity can often achieve positive growth afterwards.
This growth can occur in one or more domains: a greater appreciation of life, increased personal strength, openness to new possibilities, improved relationships, and enhanced spiritual or existential awareness. At the core of PTG is restoring a purposeful and meaningful life, learning to respond rather than react, and the construction of new beliefs about the world, one’s self, and the future. The CVMA, comprised of motorcycle-riding veterans from all branches of the United States Armed Forces, feels it their duty to extend PTG to their fellow vet brothers and sisters, and decided that aiding education would do the trick. With members from all 50 states, their mission is to support and defend veterans who served their country and fought for our freedoms.
The CVMA 6-4 Veteran Scholarship will award $500 to a student once per semester to recipients who were an honorably discharged combat veteran and who is at least a sophomore full-time student with a minimum 2.5 GPA. The scholarship is named for the CVMA South Louisiana Chapter.
“We just want to be able to give back to our veteran community and make sure the guys returning home from combat theater who are trying to make something of themselves are afforded every opportunity possible,” CMVA member and Navy veteran John Bruner said. “Coming back to school can be a make or break opportunity. A lot of guys coming back home have seen things and may have some issues that if compounded by financial burden can lead them down a darker path. We want to do anything we can to divert that in a positive direction.”
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