Veterans with Disabilities in Higher Education


The focus of this SIG is Veterans with Disabilities in Higher Education.


Veterans with disabilities are recognized individuals with a great capacity to help others. Ensuring their unique life experiences are valued in higher education and societal environments demonstrates the vision of AHEAD to embody equality of opportunity. While veterans with disabilities may seem to be primarily an American phenomenon, the lessons on helping individuals with acquired brain injuries, mobility issues, and psychological challenges provide guidance from improved practice in moving all individuals with disabilities toward full participation in postsecondary education around the world.

The purpose of this SIG is to bring awareness of the unique skills and knowledge required to work effectively with veterans with disabilities in higher education. This SIG will provide a forum for discussion of current issues and a network/clearing house/liaison for AHEAD members on veterans' issues. Also, this SIG will sponsor and promote scholarly research about student veterans with disabilities and conduct outreach activities to other professional organizations working with veterans with disabilities in higher education.

The SIG's commitment to research, dissemination of knowledge and discussion of issues and challenges of veterans with disabilities are in keeping with AHEAD's values. These values view disability as the interaction between the person and environment, promotes diversity, is equitable, demands inclusivity and provides an organization strength that sustains essential resources and supports growth.


Wayne Miller, PhD
Director Adult Basic Education
Idaho State University
Pocatello, ID
Phone: 208-282-4133


Jorja Waybrant, M.Ed.
Learning Resources
Disability Resources
University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Winston-Salem, NC
Phone: 336-770-1453


  1. Fran Maocchio
  2. Debbie Spurlin
  3. Marsha Ellison
  4. Stephanie E. Gernert
  5. Charles Robert “Chuck” Eade
  6. Christina Bruck
  7. Jeannine Hadley
  8. Lee Henson
  9. Amanda Kraus
  10. Sue Kroger
  11. Sven Jones
  12. L. Scott Lissner
  13. Merrill Parra
  14. Sandra L. Patton
  15. Beth Pincus
  16. Brenda York


Online resources:

Accommodating Student Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Tips for Campus Faculty and Staff

American Council on Education (ACE) – Military Students and Veterans

ACE Toolkit for Veteran Friendly Institutions

PTSD: National Center for PTSD

Wounded Warriors Resource Center

ADA: Know Your Rights – Returning Service Members with Disabilities

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center

Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms

Disability Law & Policy e-Newsletter
October 20, 2011
Special Veterans Issue

National Center for PTSD: Electronic Index of Traumatic Stress Literature

National Center for PTSD: Traumatic Brain Injury & PTSD

National Resource Directory (NRD) for Wounded, Ill, and Injured Service Members>

Student Veterans of America

Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide for Patients

US Department of Education – Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Letter to Veterans

US Department of Labor – Veterans' Employment and Training Services

VA Campus Toolkit

Wounded Warriors Project

Online Courses:

Citizen-Soldier Support Program (CSSP)
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Odum Institute for Research in Social Science - once you are on the site – click on the "courses" tab" 

Online Videos:

Two video clips by Medivisuals on how a TBI occurs (approx 7 min each): 
2D/3D Medical Animation: TBI - Traumatic Brain Injury Part I 
2D/3D Medical Animation: TBI - Traumatic Brain Injury Part 2

Windows To the Brain: Neuropsychiatry of war-related mild TBI
By Robin A. Hurley, MD, FANPA, Associate Professor, WFUSM & BCM

Two videos from the Brain Injury Research Center - Mount Sinai School of Medicine (approx 40 min each):
Traumatic Brain Injury 10 -
Accommodations for Traumatic Brain Injury -   

Publication reviews

Service Members in School – Military Veterans' Experiences Using the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Pursuing Postsecondary Education, published November 2010 by RAND Corporation with support from Lumina Foundation for Education, for the American Council on Education (ACE).  This national study was conducted within a year of the onset of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  Researchers used mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) to compile data extracted from focus groups, surveys, and personal interviews.  Participants were active military, student veterans, and dependents enrolled in 2-year, 4-year, public and private institutions (including non-profit and for-profit).  The publication is an interesting read and provides a wealth of information on student experiences in using the GI Bill, transferring military credits, and adapting to life on campus – what works, what doesn't work, and why.  Insight is shed on existing barriers to educational success, why some veterans have chosen not to access their educational benefits, and the resulting impact of the Post-9/11 GI Bill on educational institutions. 

According to the study, the availability of the Post-9/11 GI Bill has been a driving force in enrollment decisions by military affiliated students to further their education.  When it comes to choosing an institution, however, a majority of the respondents noted the opportunity to transfer military credits is not a factor.  Instead, "degree program offerings, reputation, geographic proximity, familiarity and institutional emphasis on adult learners" are the highest priorities.  While more than 50% of the respondents attempted to transfer military credits about half of those reported being able to do so, noting complaints of inconsistent institutional policies for transferring such credits. 

Despite the benefits, the publication highlights numerous challenges to using the GI Bill - such as late payments for tuition and living allowance; debt notices for tuition overpayments; lack of a statement or accounting system that indicates benefit status/history for charges, payments, etc.; and barriers to understanding educational benefits and options.  Reported campus challenges include: difficulties in meeting academic expectations; balancing academic requirements with other obligations (i.e. work, family, etc.); an inability to relate to non-veteran peers on campus; and navigating postsecondary education with service-connected injuries. 

When adapting to life on campus, the study further notes, the greatest area of support comes from fellow student veterans.  A majority of respondents (67%) indicated professors were another valuable resource and "quite helpful or extremely helpful."  Also, service members reported their military experience as a strength in providing "the focus…discipline, and drive…needed to succeed academically."

Report findings provide insight to what is needed and result in comprehensive and valuable recommendations.  Information gleaned will assist in developing smoother operations by Veterans Affairs (VA) and postsecondary educational institutions to provide effective services to individuals using the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  A copy of the publication is available for purchase through, or by contacting ACE Fulfillment Service, Department 191, Washington, DC 20055-0191,, phone: 301.532.6757, fax: 301.843.0159.

Review by:  Jorja Waybrant, University of North Carolina – Wilmington


Journal Readings

Burnett, S., & Segoria, J. (2009). Collaboration for military transition from combat to college: It takes a community. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 22(1), 53-58

Grossman, P. (2009). Forward with a challenge: Leading our campuses away from the perfect storm. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 21(1), 4-9

Health and Health-Related Behaviors – Minnesota Postsecondary Student Veterans

Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability (Vol 22, No. 1 – 2009) - Association on Higher Education and Disability

Veterans with Disabilities

National Council on Disability
Invisible Wounds: Serving Service Members and Veterans with PTSD and TBI


Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character by Jonathan Shay

Church, Tom (2009). Veterans with Disabilities: Promoting Success in Higher Education. Book is an AHEAD publication and may be ordered via

Educating Veterans in the 21st Century by Douglas Herrmann, Charles Hopkins, Roland B. Wilson, and Bert Allen.(2009). Lexington, KY: Booksurge.

Herrmann, D., Hopkins, C., Wilson, R., & Allen, B. (2009). Educating veterans in the 21st century. Lexington, KY: BookSurge

Hidden Battles on Unseen Fronts: Stories of American Soldiers with Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD by Patricia Driscoll and Celia Straus.

Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming by Jonathan Shay

Returning Wars' Wounded, Injured, and Ill:  A Reference Handbook (Contemporary Military Strategic and Security Issues) Edited by Nathan D. Ainspan, and Walter E. Penk. 

War Trauma: Lessons Unlearned, from Vietnam to Iraq by Raymond Monsour Scurfield.

Brain Injury Awareness

Brain Injury Awareness Month Facts