NMSU hosts Ft. Bliss soldiers as part of wounded warriors transition project

October 3, 2008 by Daniella De Luca NMSU News Center

The School of Social Work at the New Mexico State University College of Health and Social Services hosted 25 soldiers currently stationed at Ft. Bliss, Texas for some time away from post Oct. 2.

The soldiers visited the Las Cruces campus and were provided with information and an overview of degree programs offered at the university. They heard speakers from a variety of departments in each of the various colleges, university admissions, as well as brief accounts from ROTC and AFROTC lieutenant colonels.

“Whether you decide to come to NMSU or not, the most important thing is to get into a university,” Fred Rodriguez told the group. Rodriguez is the NMSU military coordinator for student success and a retired lieutenant colonel. He gave an overview of opportunities for distance education and the college of extended learning. Rodriguez and other speakers conveyed the importance of open communication to their audience.

“We thank you for your service. If you need anything, call us or visit us in Young Hall. We speak your language,” said Brad Gavle with ROTC at the College of Arts and Sciences. Young Hall also houses the AFROTC.

NMSU degree programs covered included criminal justice, hotel, restaurant and tourism management, social work and nursing. “We wanted to bring them a wide range of areas of study that might interest them to further their education,” said Shelly A. Bucher, interim director of NMSU School of Social Work.

The soldiers who visited campus served the U.S. in the war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan and because of it many have developed Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS) and other health conditions.

The visit was organized as part of the Wounded Warriors Transition Project at Ft. Bliss Restoration and Resilience Center. Once a week, as part of this comprehensive health program, group day trips are organized to help the soldiers become adapted to social environments as a means for improving and restoring their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

PTSS is an emotional illness commonly diagnosed in soldiers and war veterans and is caused by terribly frightening, life-threatening or unsafe experiences, according to online medical journals. Both psychological and medical treatments are available for individuals with this illness.

The group convened for a campus lunch with a half dozen NMSU students from the College of Health and Social Services. The visit ended with guided van tours of campus.

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