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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 16th June 2017 > FRESHMAN DISORIENTATION


Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling to adjust to life in college. But a Vassar program is trying to change that


A PROUD FEW: Members of the 2014 Veterans Posse Program at Vassar College. Experts tracking student veterans worry that not many are attending the country’s top institutions.

WHEN FERNANDO BRAGA arrived at Vassar College for freshmen orientation, he immediately had second thoughts. Most of his new classmates were young and living on their own for the irst time. But Braga, 34, had a wife and daughter and lived in a house of-campus. He had also been to war.

Braga had served with the Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom. After returning from overseas, he worked in rail maintenance for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City. His life experience and age set him apart from his new classmates. He felt like Adam Sandler’s character in Billy Madison, who at 27 must repeat grades one through 12. “It was like, ‘Did I do the right thing?’”

Students who saw him dropping of his daughter at day care thought he was a faculty member. His struggles weren’t unique. Veterans at other schools have spoken about how difficult it can be to it in at college, and a study published in March in the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability found that because of the mental health problems veterans might face after returning from combat, they are at higher risk for dropping out of college and are more likely to show lower academic achievement.

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