The transition from high school senior to college freshman can be pretty tough — harder classes, moving into the dorms and separation from parents and family. But for US veterans, who are more used to the rigors of the battlefield than the classroom, the jump is exponentially different.

Two student veterans spoke yesterday about the ways in which universities can help those who have served in combat and now must make the quick change to life as college students. The speech was part of the seventh annual Depression on College Campuses Conference, hosted by the University’s Depression Center.

The talk focused on the need for campus organizations to provide student veterans with the emotional support and connections to other veterans who have been in and are facing similar situations.

Bryan Adams, who served as an army sniper in Iraq from 2004-2005 and is now a junior at Rutgers University, spoke about the difficulty of the transition between military life and college life, which can easily lead to depression.

“I would go out and try to have a good time, and one negative thought would pop into my brain,” he said. “My whole attitude would change.”

Adams, who is president of Rutgers Veterans for Education, added that many student veterans have similar feelings when they transition back to civilian life.

“It’s a natural reaction to an abnormal circumstance.”

Adams emphasized the need for cooperation between veterans entering universities and the community as a whole to aid student veterans’ success.

“There needs to be an understanding of the nature of the conflict and the nature of the problem that student veterans are facing,” he said.

Adams pointed out that many universities lack comprehensive programs that offer guidance for veterans in their shift to college life.

Derek Blumke, who served in Iraq as an aircraft electrician and maintenance supervisor in the Air Force and is now an LSA junior, also discussed the difficult switch between active duty and student life and the need for campus-wide understanding of the difference between the military and college.

Citing insensitive questions from fellow students and professors as a source of difficulty adjusting well to college life, Blumke, co-founder and president of Student Veterans of America, stated that there needs to be a level of sensitivity toward topics concerning military life.

“We’re not faulting people for being curious, just be aware of the situation,” he said.

Both Adams and Blumke work in their respective universities as well as on a national level to advocate for student veteran groups on college campuses. Their work focuses on bringing student veterans together to ensure they do not feel alone in their experiences, something both say they have felt personally in the past.

“I need to take my experience and transfer it into a positive thing for myself and my fellow veterans,” Adams said.

Blumke and Adams added that they hope their experiences in the military will help them to make a difference.

“We want to make changes, not just for ourselves, but for society as a whole,” Blumke said.

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