The Experiences of Veterans With Disabilities During Their Enrollment at a Four-Year University Open Access
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This qualitative study identified the challenges, supports, and services that a diverse sample of veterans with disabilities utilized as undergraduate students at universities across the United States. The study sample consisted of ten veterans with disabilities who were currently enrolled in, or had graduated within five years from, a four-year postsecondary institution. The participants attended ten different universities and were a diverse sample in terms of disabilities, branch of service, combat exposure, area of study, and gender. The veterans participated in semi-structured interviews that examined their transition, academic, and social experiences in college. Generally, the participants struggled during the transition to school and received a limited number of supports from their postsecondary institutions. The majority also faced a number of academic challenges, although they did not seek formal assistance. There was a severe lapse in Disability Support Services (DSS) as none of the participants registered with the DSS office and more than half were unaware that these supports were available to them. The veterans had limited social experiences on campus and none of them opted to join student veterans' organizations and other social groups, though they felt most comfortable around other veterans. These findings suggest the need for additional research on veterans with disabilities, specifically between those who are receiving DSS and those who are not. There is also a clear need for improved transition services, including methods of identifying veterans with disabilities, and academic supports at four-year institutions. Furthermore, these results indicate that it is may be more effective to connect veterans to each other through channels outside of traditional on-campus veterans' organizations.