GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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August 6, 2013

Help is plentiful for military veterans going back to school

:Dear Abby: This letter is for “Torn in Milford, Conn.” (May 16). I returned to college after 20 years of active duty and know firsthand how difficult the transition can be. Most universities have a veterans’ service office where he might be able to connect with students with similar backgrounds and experiences to his. There should also be chapters of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars where he can meet others.

I was fortunate that the university I attended (at age 45) had a dorm floor specifically for “nontraditional” students like me. In classes, I was able to make friends because my unique experiences enabled me to connect to the material in ways younger students could not, and by sharing those connections, people got to know me. Starting over — starting something new — is always difficult, but no education is ever wasted.

If he does want to explore a career in security, “Torn” should take a part-time job while attending school to help cover expenses; universities always need highly skilled employees, and university towns are filled with venues that require such skills. That being said, a diploma will get him further in his future.

:Nontraditional Student, Ekalaka, Mont.

Dear Nontraditional Student: Thank you for sharing your personal experience. Your support and encouragement for “Torn” to complete his college education was endorsed by many other vets and college professors, who find vets to be great students:

Dear Abby: I’m concerned that there may be more going on with “Torn” than just that he/she doesn’t fit in with peers in school. Being a combat vet and feeling disconnected from peers or having a desire to return to what they knew before (security work) is a sign of PTSD. Missing work is often “code” for survivor’s guilt. (“If I could go back and make it right, perhaps my buddy would be here, or I would be with my buddy.”)

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