Elaine Manglitz; Calyton College & State University
Joan McGuire; University of Connecticut
Janet Medina; McDaniel College
Deborah Merchant; Keene State University
Ward Newmeyer; Dartmouth College
Christine O’Dell; University of California, Davis
Nicole Ofiesh; Notre Dame de Namur University
David Parker; Washington University in St. Louis
Betty Preus; College of St. Scholastica
Kelly Drew Roberts; University of Hawaii at Manoa
Frank R. Rusch; The Pennsylvania State University
Daniel Ryan; SUNY at Buffalo
Charles Salzberg; Utah State University
Mary Catherine Scheeler; Pennsylvania State Univ. Green Valley
Sally Scott; Longwood University
Stuart S. Segal; University of Michigan
Stan Shaw; University of Connecticut
Sharon K. Suritsky; Upper St. Clair School District
Colleen A. Thoma; Virginia Commonwealth University
Susan A. Vogel; Northern Illinois University
Ruth Warick; University of British Columbia
Kristine Webb; University of North Florida
Marc Wilchesky; York University
Practice Brief Review Board Doris A. Bitler; George Mason University
Melinda S. Burchard; James Madison University
Trey J. Duffy; Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Alberto Guzman; University of Illinois, Chicago
Andrea Henry; Massasoit Community College
Andrew Jason Kaiser; St. Ambrose University
Angela S. Mooneyham; University of Alabama, Birmingham
Lori R. Muskat; Georgia School of Professional Psychology, Argosy - Atlanta
Jack Trammell; Randolph-Macon College
Mary Lee Vance; University of Wisconsin, Superior
Margaret P.Weiss; Virginia Tech AHEAD Board of Directors Michael Shuttic, President; Oklahoma State University
Jim Marks, President-Elect; University of Montana
Kathleen McGillivray, Secretary; Bethel University
Michael Johnson, Treasurer; Monroe Community College - Damon City Campus
Jean Ashmore, Director; Rice University
Bea Awoniyi, Director; Florida State University
Karen Saracusa, Director; Mount Union College
Emily Singer, Director; Catholic University of America
Jose Soto, Director; Southeast Community College
Mary Lee Vance, Director; University of Wisconsin - Superior
Stephan J. Hamlin-Smith, (ex-officio); AHEAD
The Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability is available in accessible formats. Please contact AHEAD to discuss accessibility requests. All members of the Association on Higher Education And Disability receive the Journal.
Deserving Design: The New Generation of Student Veterans 59 - 66
Helping Veterans with Disabilities Transition to Employment 67 - 74
Author Guidelines Inside Back Cover
From the Special Issue Editor
Joseph W. Madaus
University of Connecticut
These are challenging, interesting, and potentially historic times for Disability Services (DS) offices in the United States. Programs are feeling the impact of unprecedented budget issues that are facing institutions throughout the country (Basken, 2008; Selingo, 2008). The recent passage of the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act of 2008 (ADAA) presents new requirements that are changing how programs make decisions about eligibility for services.
At the same time, hundreds of thousands of veterans are returning home from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan. With the recent passage of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, it is expected that as many as two million veterans will enroll in postsecondary education (American Council on Education, 2008). It is estimated by the Rand Corporation (2008) that as many as 25% of these veterans will have hidden disabilities, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression, while other veterans will return with physical and sensory impairments.
Not all postsecondary institutions will feel the impact in the same way. In this issue, author Thomas E. Church (2009) notes that institutions near military bases or VA Hospitals may see larger numbers of students. State institutions may also see direct impact. At one state institution in Connecticut, it is estimated that veterans make up nearly 10% of the entire student body (Altimari, 2008). Service providers at these schools have a direct and clear need for information about how to best serve veterans with disabilities, and can emerge as campus leaders that provide this population of students with the services they so rightly deserve. The articles in this issue provide cutting edge information related to solving documentation issues, providing reasonable accommodations, collaborating with other campus offices, and helping veterans with disabilities transition to employment.
However, regardless of location or institutional type, it is critically important for disability service providers to be knowledgeable and proactive campus leaders. As several articles in this issue point out, veterans may not be willing to seek out DS. In regards to disclosure, documentation, and understanding the need for accommodations, veterans face different issues than traditional students. Thus, the fact that a DS office has no or few registered veterans with disabilities does not mean that these students are not on campus. Rather, it may point to the need for new methods of reaching out to students, most likely in collaboration with other campus services. Several of the articles in this issue provide suggestions related to how DS offices can become part of the planning process on campus to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for veterans with disabilities.
Overview of the Articles
This special issue begins with a foreword by Paul D. Grossman, who challenges postsecondary institutions and DS providers to become forceful leaders in promoting the civil rights of veterans to avoid a “perfect storm” of pending crises. Joseph W. Madaus, Wayne K. Miller II, and Mary Lee Vance provide a historical perspective of how postsecondary institutions have provided services for veterans with disabilities. Noting that veterans have long been catalysts in the development of DS, the authors comment that the current conditions can serve to move DS to a new level of development and campus leadership.
The next article by Mary Lee Vance and Wayne K. Miller II provides the results of a nationwide survey of members of the Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD) related to serving wounded warriors. This study serves as the seminal look at current statistics and practices in this area.
Next, Allan L. Shackelford addresses the key issues of student disclosure and documentation. This article presents strategies and solutions for DS providers to work with veterans with disabilities as they attempt to obtain documentation of their disability.
This is followed by an article by Thomas E. Church, who provides a description of some of the common injuries facing veterans of OIF and OEF and how these can impact access to postsecondary education. Common accommodations and useful resources are also presented.
The second half of the issue deals with new methods of service delivery. Sandra E. Burnett and John Segoria describe how the unique needs of veterans can be met through collaboration between DS offices, veterans affairs offices, other campus services, and community agencies.
Cheryl Branker presents suggestions related to how colleges can use the concept of Universal Design (UD) to create a better-prepared and balanced environment for veterans. The issue concludes with an article by Debra Ruh, Paul Spicer, and Kathleen Vaughan related to how collaboration between DS offices and other campus offices, community agencies and employers can help veterans transition to employment.
Two themes echo throughout these articles. The first is that DS providers face a new set of challenges in ensuring that veterans with disabilities receive access to the education that they deserve. The second is that the field is at a crossroads, but in rising to meet these challenges, the DS profession can emerge as a leader in campus initiatives and in the promotion of the civil rights of all students with disabilities.
American Council on Education. (2008, November). Serving those who serve: Higher education and America’s veterans. Issue Brief. Retrieved November 30, 2008 from http://www.acenet.edu/Content/NavigationMenu/ProgramsServices/MilitaryPrograms/serving/Veterans_Issue_Brief_1108.pdf
Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008, S. 3406; Public Law 110 325.
Altimari, D. (2008, March 19). Soldier to student: Even amid campus calm, veterans can struggle to make the transition. Hartford Courant, pp. A1, A6.
Basken, P. (2008, November 28). Rising enrollments buoy some colleges, burden others. The Chronicle of Higher Education, pp. A1, A14, A15.
Church, T. E. (2009). Returning veterans on campus with war related injuries and the long road back home. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 22(1), 224-232.
Rand Center for Military Health Policy Research (2008, April). Invisible wounds: Mental health and cognitive care needs of America’s returning veterans. Retrieved November 27, 2008 from http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9336
Selingo, J. (2008, November 7). State budgets are likely to squeeze 2-Year colleges. The Chronicle of Higher Education, pp. A1, A19.
The Post-9/11 Veterans Assistance Act of 2008, H.R. 2642; Public Law 110-252.
Foreword with a Challenge:
Leading Our Campuses Away from the Perfect Storm Paul D. Grossman
Hastings College of Law
University of California
The concurrent return of veterans with disabilities from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) of 2008, and the passage of the Post-9/11 Veterans Assistance Act of 2008 places America’s colleges and universities in the path of a “perfect storm” — a series of crises resulting from a failure to recognize what is unique to the needs of veterans with disabilities. Business as usual will not work. At the same time, these challenges present a great opportunity for reinvigoration of the disability rights movement by the veterans, and others, as well as innovation, the development of best practices, and the adoption of Universal Design (UD) solutions by colleges and universities committed to effectively addressing the civil rights of this new population of students with disabilities. This “foreword” to this special issue of JPED is intended to move us “forward.” Drawing upon the insights and solutions that follow in this issue, this foreword presents an overview of these issues, and challenges colleges and universities and the membership of AHEAD to be leaders in this historic civil rights opportunity.
A Critical Point in American Civil Rights History
We are at a critical point in American civil rights history, particularly with regard to disability rights. More than 1.5 million Americans have placed their lives in peril during Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF) (Church, 2009; Vance & Miller, 2009). Civil rights history teaches that as these veterans return home and transition to our campuses, they may be counted on to vigorously assert their undeniably legitimate claims to their civil rights and educational benefits (American GI Forum, 2008; Madaus, 2000; Madaus, Vance & Miller, 2009; The President’s Committee on Civil Rights, 2008; Welch & Palames, 1995). The membership of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) sits at the intersection of these powerful legal, social, and academic forces (Grossman, 2008).
War entails trauma to the body and the mind. This is particularly true in Iraq and Afghanistan, where improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are primary weapons of close-quarters combat (Church, 2009). There is currently no one reliable source for the percentage of returning veterans headed for higher education who may be individuals with disabilities. However, an estimate of 40% is not unreasonable given the reported prevalence in the military and VA medical systems of OEF/OIF veterans identified with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression, substance abuse, hearing and vision related injuries, substantial mobility limitations owing to brain and orthopedic injuries, as well as disfiguring burns and debilitating toxic exposure (Church, 2009; Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, 2008; Rand Center for Military Health Policy Research, 2008). Further, neither military nor VA figures account for the fact (first reported in this issue of the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability), that many individuals transitioning from the battlefield to our campuses do so with some form of learning disability, likely predating their military service. (Vance & Miller, 2009; Shackelford, 2009).
Contributing to the Perfect Storm: Two New Laws
The intensity of this historic moment is amplified by the recent enactment of two Federal laws: the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 and the Post-9/11 Veterans Assistance Act of 2008 (respectively, P.L. 110-325, also known as the ADAAA and P.L. 110-252, also known as the New GI Bill). The ADAAA, which became effective on January 1, 2009, extends the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1974 (Section 504) to a greater number of individuals than at any time since the ADA or Section 504 were enacted (respectively, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 and 29 U.S.C. § 794; Shackelford, 2009). In general, the ADA protects persons who are “individuals with disabilities.” The language of the ADAAA makes it clear that Congress intended the coverage of the ADA and Section 504 to be broad. This is in contrast to the narrow coverage that has resulted from the very demanding standards set by the Federal courts for who qualifies as “an individual with a disability.” The objective of the ADAAA is to shift the focus of attention from who is an individual with a disability to whether an individual was the object of disability discrimination. The ADAAA will most certainly benefit veterans with disabilities.
Under the ADAAA, the words used to define a current disability remain basically unchanged: “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Though the words are familiar, their interpretation or construction is quite changed. The ADAAA achieves this objective largely by rejecting a number of prior Supreme Court decisions, including three (the Sutton trilogy) in 1999 that held that “mitigating measures,” such as medication and learned neurological accommodations must be taken into account in determining whether an individual’s impairments substantially limit a major life activity (Sutton v. United Airlines; Murphy v. U.P.S.; Albertson’s, Inc. v. Kirkingburg). The illustrative examples provided by Congress in the ADAAA of mitigating measures that no longer may be taken into account include “medication,” “assistive technology,” “hearing devices,” “mobility devices” and “prosthetics.”
The ADAAA does not explicitly articulate a new construction for the word “substantially,” but it explicitly rejects the highly demanding interpretation of “substantially” found in the 2002 Supreme Court decision in Toyota Motor Manufacturing v. Williams and establishes that an impairment may be substantially limiting even if its impact is only episodic, as might occur for example with recurring depression. Further, in the ADAAA Congress has provided an expanded illustrative list of major life activities including “… seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, … learning, reading, concentrating, thinking and communicating” and a list of “major bodily functions” such as of the “immune system … digestive, bowel, bladder … brain … and circulatory functions.”
The ADAAA also expands the coverage of persons who are “perceived as disabled.” Individuals so perceived will be covered if he or she is treated adversely, whether or not the impairment actually limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity. Thus, a person, perceived as having a psychiatric condition will be protected from adverse treatment based on myths and stereotypes about persons with psychiatric disabilities even if he or she cannot establish that he or she has such a disability.
Prior to passage of the ADAAA, an individual whose legs were amputated in battle might not be covered by the ADA or Section 504 because, with his/her prostheses (mitigating measure) in place, he/she could walk as well at the “average person in the general population.” Under the ADAAA, there should be little doubt that an individual missing his/her legs is covered by the ADA and Section 504.
Of course, it is the rare college that would deny necessary accommodations to an individual missing his/her legs. The greater impact of the ADAAA on campus is likely to pertain to persons with psychological and cognitive disabilities (e.g., depression and ADHD) historically excluded from coverage because of the mitigating effects of medication, the episodic nature of the impairment, or because various pertinent major life activities such as concentration and thinking have not been readily recognized by the courts. All three of these barriers to coverage have been addressed in the ADAAA. Equally important, the ADAAA makes it much more likely that two key war-related impairments, TBI and PTSD, will qualify an individual for coverage under the ADA and Section 504 both because manifestations of these impairments include psychological and cognitive disabilities and because they entail substantial limitations to several of the major bodily functions enumerated by Congress in the ADAAA.
The collateral impact of the ADAAA on postsecondary students may be greater yet. The more generous interpretations of coverage called for under the ADAAA should have a considerable impact on those standardized testing entities and employers that have historically interpreted the ADA and Section 504 narrowly and actively backed their interpretations through litigation. The litigation position of some colleges, universities, and standardized testing entities that an individual who earns good grades cannot possibly be an individual with a covered learning disability has come to the attention of Congress. As Shackelford (2009) stated, “The legislative history of the ADAAA makes clear that a student who has ‘performed well academically’ may still be substantially limited and disabled with regard to related academic activities such as ‘learning, reading, writing, thinking, or speaking.’” The Federal appellate courts are already taking note of this interpretation of the ADA by requiring district courts to reconsider narrow interpretations of the ADA in cases concerning individuals with learning disabilities (Jenkins v. National Board of Medical Examiners, 2009). The idea that a veteran with a disability should be discouraged from otherwise feasible career goals because of potential future testing, licensing, and employment barriers will be even less legitimate than in the past.
The second legislative development contributing to the potential perfect storm, effective in August 2009, will be the expansion of service-related educational benefits under the Post-9/11 Veterans Assistance Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-252, also known as the New GI Bill; Church, 2009; Lissner, 2008; Madaus et al., 2009; Shackelford, 2009). Under the New GI Bill, benefits will be provided to a level not known since the end of World War II.
The benefits under this program are not easily summarized. As a general statement, individuals who have served on active duty in the U.S. military since September 11, 2001 will receive educational benefits based on the length of their service, with maximum benefits reached after 36 months of active duty service. These benefits may be applied to undergraduate and graduate school, vocational education, and technical training (The Department of Veterans Affairs, 2008).
Veterans covered by the New GI Bill are eligible to receive the full amount of tuition and fees charged by a college or university, not to exceed the most expensive in-state public institution; a monthly housing allowance; a yearly books and fees stipend of up to $1000; $500 for relocation expenses; financial benefits for tutorial assistance; and, reimbursement for licensing and certification tests. These benefits are available for a period of 15 years; the 36 months need not run consecutively. Benefits are also transferable to spouses and dependent children (The Department of Veterans Affairs, 2008). No doubt the current state of the U.S. economy will increase the likelihood that these benefits will be used by OIF/OEF veterans.
This new cohort of individuals with disabilities can overwhelm our postsecondary institutions or it can serve as an engine of innovation. Our returning veterans can present us with multiple crises or motivate us to end, “silo-like,” piecemeal approaches to what are clearly interdisciplinary and interagency responsibilities (Branker, 2009; Burnett & Segoria, 2009). “Business as usual” will not work. Innovative practices will need to be developed and shared by the membership of AHEAD (Grossman, 2008). The presence and legitimate expectations of veterans with disabilities can wake up colleges and universities that have too long practiced benign neglect when it comes to facilities’ access and have responded to auxiliary aid responsibilities on an ad hoc basis. A committed response to this new population of students with disabilities will underscore the superiority of UD solutions to program access (Branker, 2009; Burnett & Segoria, 2009). Some colleges, universities, and systems are already on the path of opportunity, while others seem destined to be in the center of the storm (Grossman, 2008; Burnett & Segoria, 2009).
The Challenge: Prepare for a New Population
Except with regard to learning disabilities, most colleges and universities will have only limited prior experience with the predominant disabilities related to service in Iraq and Afghanistan (Branker, 2009; Monroe, 2008). The characteristics of returning veterans, particularly those with disabilities, will need to be an essential element of faculty in-service training programs (Madaus et al., 2009; Vance & Miller,2009). Disability service providers can serve a key role in such efforts, and no group of individuals is better qualified for this role than the veterans themselves (Burnett & Segoria, 2009).
Foundational legal concepts, reaffirmed in the ADAAA, preserve the principle that no postsecondary institution needs to fundamentally alter its programs, curriculum, or lower its academic standards to accommodate individuals with disabilities (Southeastern Community College v. Davis, 1979). This principle applies no less to students with disabilities recently acquired in battle. But this principle should not relieve any institution from extending to veterans with disabilities a diligent process of rethinking what is or is not “fundamental” (Wynne v. Tufts School of Medicine, 1991; Wong v. Regents of University of California, 1999). Math departments that refuse all students access to calculators will want to carefully consider the consequences of such a policy on a student whose TBI makes calculations “in the head” impossible – particularly when passing math stands between such a student, his/her degree, and self-sufficiency. A college or university cannot both commit to educating veterans with PTSD and at the same time fail to give full consideration to creating exceptions (accommodations) to minimum course load requirements. Colleges and universities that distinguish between what is or is not fundamental solely by reference to subsequent career expectations will need to come to terms with the concept that some veterans will be too disabled to ever engage in a career but are not remotely too disabled to be life-long learners. For some individuals being an active thinker and learner is what will distinguish them as a human being and make life worth living (Grossman, 2008). Conversely, many veterans will see the primary goal of higher education to be qualified for employment, requiring new forms of outreach to potential employers by college employment counselors (Ruh, Spicer, & Vaughan, 2009).
Hiring or contracting sufficient auxiliary aids to serve returning veterans with substantial vision or hearing impairments will require advance planning. Persons with this responsibility should anticipate a potential shift in the mix of auxiliary aid services that will be provided, owing to a population of vision and hearing impaired individuals who are new to their disabilities and individuals unfamiliar with Braille or ASL (Monroe, 2008).
The Challenge: Foster New Outreach
This JPED issue is an important initial step by AHEAD in the direction of innovation and collaboration to create campuses where veterans may successfully transition from the battlefield and persist to graduation. But we must do a great deal more. The member colleges and universities of AHEAD should be encouraged to implement veteran-specific outreach activities to address the fact that many veterans with disabilities will not self-identify as individuals with disabilities or may respond negatively to “disability language” and labels (Burnett & Segoria, 2009; Church, 2009; Shackelford, 2009). These individuals will need to become well informed as to the resources and procedures available on our campuses to secure their rights and educational opportunities. They must be reached in language familiar to them and through different relevant and current forums such as social networking web sites, Veterans Assistance Centers and on-base education centers, as well as through the local VA facilities and veterans’ organizations.
Listening to the voices of veterans is an essential element of a welcoming campus. Already they have told us is that they want and need the opportunity to continue in camaraderie with other veterans. To this end, veteran-centered on-campus organizations (centers, clubs, fraternities/sororities, support groups) must be developed (Burnett & Segoria, 2009; Church, 2009). These venues should serve as a priority forum for outreach by DS offices.
Unlike students with disabilities currently in college, most returning veterans with disabilities have never been in the academic “disability pipeline” (Monroe, 2008). They do not come with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), “helicopter parents,” and a preconceived notion of “appropriate” reasonable accommodations. To the contrary, they may well arrive on campus in denial of their disability and with a perception that accommodations are “unfair” and only for the “weak” (Shackelford, 2009). They may have no understanding of what accommodations might help them to succeed in college, and a set of medical records with little discussion of the impact of their disabilities on reading, writing, concentrating, thinking, or learning (Burnett & Segoria, 2009; Shackelford, 2009). Consequently, their military and VA medical records may both over and under report the information necessary to assess the existence of a disability and the functional limitations they will need for accommodation in college (Shackelford, 2009). There is a strong likelihood that veterans will present the need to locate affordable and qualified assessment resources for previously undiagnosed cognitive disabilities in greater numbers.
The luckiest disabled veterans will show up with a spouse, parent, caring friend, or fellow veteran wanting to assist in the transition back to college. The disabled student services community will need to find effective and lawful ways to include these individuals in the interactive accommodation process.
The Challenge: Lead the Change
Returning veterans with disabilities require a “campus champion” (Vance & Miller, 2009). Coordination between campus disability service officers, counseling program directors, veterans’ coordinators, and financial aid officers would help to meet the needs of veterans with disabilities (Branker, 2009; Burnett & Segoria, 2009; Miller & Vance, 2009). Experience suggests that eventually the most effective campus champion will be an OIF/OEF veteran. But the first champion may have to be someone else, quite possibly a disabled student services professional. At a minimum every disabled student services officer can take it upon him or herself to open communication with their campuses veterans’ services officers (VSO) and suggest steps for enhanced communication and coordination. If the campus VSO is merely a work-study student trained in financial aid matters, disabled student services may need to consider an even more active role in meeting the needs of veterans with disabilities.
The Challenge: Remain Committed to this Opportunity
This nation’s veterans represent a group of individuals who have been rigorously trained for quick and decisive thinking. They have placed their lives on the line with teams of individuals diverse in every possible way. They have been trained and tested for leadership under the greatest of adversities (Branker, 2009; Ruh et al., 2009). America cannot afford to squander its considerable investment in any returning veteran, merely because of disability, thereby relegating him or her to dependency or even homelessness.
As a disability rights and service organization, AHEAD must remain committed to facilitating the impending assertion of rights and claims by veterans with disabilities. AHEAD’s experience, perspective, and leadership will be essential to supporting our nation in ensuring that our OEF/OIF veterans do not languish. This JPED issue is a very important first step. Its authors deserve our gratitude. Its content merits our attention and responsive insights. Every contribution to this issue of JPED is worth reading. But this is only one of many initiatives taken by the membership of AHEAD and many more will be necessary.