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Island University Offers Veteran Students Specialized Counseling Opportunities

July 07, 2017

Island University Offers Veteran Students Specialized Counseling Opportunities

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi University Counseling Center has partnered with the Corpus Christi Veteran Center to offer specialized, easily accessible counseling services for student veterans. Student veterans often face unique challenges, from living with injuries and combat memories to navigating the Veterans Affairs system. They may find it jarring to go from a regimented military environment where they were accustomed to being told exactly what to do, when to do it, and where to do it – to a college setting –  with minimal direction from professors or staff. Counseling can provide a safe and confidential place for student veterans to explore their thoughts and feelings about their military service, while also getting the help and support they may need from a fellow veteran in the transition to civilian and college life.

Matthew Everett, a Readjustment Counseling Therapist who works full-time at the Corpus Christi Vet Center, is now available at the University Counseling Center every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon for counseling appointments. Everett served in the United States Army as a Logistics Officer and now serves in the Army Reserves.

“We noticed a lot of our clients were also students of A&M-Corpus Christi, which is about a 15-minute drive from our office,” said Everett. “For them, we’re clear across town. So, we put our heads together and came up with a solution – a Vet Center satellite office on campus. A five-minute walk beats a 15-minute drive any day.”

Dr. Theresa Sharpe, Associate Director of the University Counseling Center and Licensed Psychologist, says that all current University Counseling Center clinicians have training and experience working with student veterans, however, the feedback from student veterans is that many of them prefer to work with a counselor who has military experience.

“A counselor who is a veteran understands military culture and lingo and what it is like to transition from military to civilian life,” said Sharpe. “This lived experience really helps them to connect with student veterans.”

The University Counseling Center saw an example of this first-hand when they hired psychologist and National Guard reservist, Dr. Sarah Skelton in 2015. Skelton networked with the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Student Veterans Organization (SVO), and in response, the University Counseling Clinic saw an uptick in the number of student veterans being referred to and seeking services from the University Counseling Center.

“When Dr. Skelton was deployed in May 2016, we were concerned there would be a gap in the resources and support that we would be able to offer student veterans,” said Sharpe. “This was the impetus for pursuing this collaboration with the Vet Center. 

Julia Snead is an A&M-Corpus Christi student studying community and mental health, and minoring in social work. She retired from the United States Marine Corps with 16 years of service and served in Afghanistan.

“From what I have observed, it’s difficult for veterans to reach out,” said Snead. “It helps when a counselor is a veteran, because they have a basic understanding of what a person had to go through in the military. There’s a camaraderie amongst us.”

As the SVO’s Public Relations Representative, Snead is excited to share news of the on-campus resources with other members of SVO.

“I receive counseling and even though it can be a little intense at times, I feel a lot stronger, motivated and aware of the positive changes in my attitude and life when I tackle my inner struggles,” said Snead.

If you are a student veteran who is trying to adjust to civilian life, feeling depressed or stressed, or just need another veteran to talk to – taking advantage of this new on-campus resources can be a helpful option. If enough students show an interest in receiving counseling services, Vet Center staff will extend their available hours at the University Counseling Center. Counseling services are provided to students through annual student fees and are held strictly confidential to the extent protected by law and professional ethics.

“We truly want to be responsive to the needs of student veterans and hope student veterans will view the Counseling Center as safe place and valuable resource as they navigate challenges in their personal and academic lives,” said Sharpe.

To learn more about counseling services available to all student, including veterans, go to counseling.tamucc.edu; or call 361.825.2703.