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Self-Reported Cognitive Symptoms in Military Veteran College Students

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An increasing number of military veterans are enrolling in college, primarily due to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides educational benefits to veterans who served on active duty since September 11, 2001. With rigorous training, active combat situations, and exposure

An increasing number of military veterans are enrolling in college, primarily due to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides educational benefits to veterans who served on active duty since September 11, 2001. With rigorous training, active combat situations, and exposure to unexpected situations, the veteran population is at a higher risk for traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and depression. All of these conditions are associated with cognitive consequences, including attention deficits, working memory problems, and episodic memory impairments. Some conditions, particularly mild TBI, are not diagnosed or treated until long after the injury when the person realizes they have cognitive difficulties. Even mild cognitive problems can hinder learning in an academic setting, but there is little data on the frequency and severity of cognitive deficits in veteran college students. The current study examines self-reported cognitive symptoms in veteran students compared to civilian students and how those symptoms relate to service-related conditions. A better understanding of the pattern of self-reported symptoms will help researchers and clinicians determine the veterans who are at higher risk for cognitive and academic difficulties.

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2016-05

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An Examination of Chronic Pain and Opioid Use Among Veterans with and without Alcohol Use Disorder

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Chronic pain is devastating and highly prevalent among Veterans in the United States (Johnson, Levesque, Broderick, Bailey & Kerns, 2017). While there are various treatment options for chronic pain, opioids remain high in popularity. Although opioids are fast-acting and effective,

Chronic pain is devastating and highly prevalent among Veterans in the United States (Johnson, Levesque, Broderick, Bailey & Kerns, 2017). While there are various treatment options for chronic pain, opioids remain high in popularity. Although opioids are fast-acting and effective, potential consequences range from unpleasant side effects to dependence and fatal overdose (Baldini, Korff & Lin, 2012; Park et al., 2015; Kaur, 2007). The effects of opioid treatment can be further complicated by a history of alcohol abuse. Past alcohol abuse is a risk factor for opioid misuse (McCabe et al., 2008). One alternative to opioid medication is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain (CBT-CP). CBT-CP has shown small to moderate effects on chronic pain after the end of treatment (Naylor, Keefe, Brigidi, Naud & Helzer, 2008). The current study examined the effect of CBT-CP on opioid prescriptions, as well as the role of past alcohol abuse in CBT-CP efficacy, through an archival data analysis of Veterans Affairs patient charts. In order to determine the effect of CBT-CP on opioid prescriptions, an opioid change score was calculated from treatment start date to twelve months post-treatment. An analysis of 106 patient charts demonstrated no statistically significant difference in opioid prescriptions between Veterans who were referred and attended treatment (n = 24) and those who were referred but did not attend (n = 82). Veterans from both groups showed a reduction in prescribed opioids during a 12-month period. Furthermore, there was no statistically significant difference between Veterans with versus without a history of alcohol abuse in terms of the change in opioid prescriptions over a 12-month period (both groups showed reductions). This research suggests that opioid prescriptions may decrease over time among Veterans referred for CBT-CP, even among those who do not participate in the groups. More work is needed to understand the relationship between opioid prescriptions and actual opioid use over time among Veterans who do and do not choose to participate in CBT-CP. Continuing to address poly-substance use in chronic pain patients also is critical to ensure that Veterans suffering from chronic pain receive appropriate intervention.

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2019-05

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Academic success and well-being following OEF/OIF deployment

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As many as one-third of OEF/OIF soldiers and combat veterans may be struggling with less visible psychological injuries. Military/veteran students may face heightened difficulties as they are not only adjusting to civilian life but also transitioning to college life. University

As many as one-third of OEF/OIF soldiers and combat veterans may be struggling with less visible psychological injuries. Military/veteran students may face heightened difficulties as they are not only adjusting to civilian life but also transitioning to college life. University administrators and staff have been charged to address their transitional needs and to promote their academic success. Despite significant influx in enrollment with the passing of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, research on OEF/OIF service members and veterans in higher education remains limited. Utilizing self-report measures, the current study examined the psychosocial functioning of 323 military/veteran students enrolled at Arizona State University who served at least one combat deployment as part of OEF/OIF. The study further investigated whether enlisting for educational benefits and utilizing campus programs/services were associated with more positive academic persistence decisions. Participants were also asked to rate ASU's programming for military/veteran students as well as suggest campus programs/services to promote their academic success. More PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety, and anger/aggression were found to be associated with less cultural congruity and lower perceived social support. Cultural congruity and social support were significant predictors of academic persistence decisions. Participants who reported utilizing more campus programs/services also tended to endorse more positive persistence decisions. No significant differences in persistence decisions were found between participants who enlisted in the military for education benefits and those who enlisted for non-educational reasons. Approximately two-thirds reported utilizing academic advising services and Veteran Benefits and Certifications. Library services, financial aid services, and ASU sporting events were the next most frequently utilized. More than 91% rated ASU's programming satisfactory or better. Over 71% of participants indicated that increasing recognition of their military experience would facilitate their academic success. Nearly 40% recommended a military/veteran student lounge and improvements to VA education benefits counseling. Another 30% recommended that ASU provide professional development for faculty/staff on military/veteran readjustment issues, improve the re-enrollment process following deployment/training, offer a veteran-specific orientation, and establish a department or center for military/veteran programming. Findings are discussed in light of Tinto's interactionist model of college student attrition, and implications for university mental health providers are presented.

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2012