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Naturally, these resources include information
about Veteran's Affairs services. With a VA
hospital just down Springs Road from the
Bedford campus, and Reppucci's extensive
knowledge and experience, the VRC offers a
wealth of information about government-
sponsored programs.
The center also provides information about
private-sector initiatives, such as the Home
Base Program. Supported by the Red Sox
Foundation and Massachusetts General
Hospital, this program addresses post-
deployment stress and traumatic brain injury
(TBI) experienced by veterans returning from
service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Middlesex
works in collaboration with Home Base,
addressing veterans' educational needs and
related support. The MCC Foundation has
also teamed up with financial services firm
Janney Montgomery Scott to promote Piers
Park Sailing Center and its special outreach to
disabled veterans who wish to experience the
world of sailing.
On-campus resources available to veterans
include specialized advising, career and
transfer counseling, personal counseling, as
well as disability-support services. The VRC
provides notice of courses and programs of
special interest to veterans, including a new
one-credit course just for veterans, titled Stress
and Resiliency: The Mind/Body Connection
,
offered spring semester.
MCC's VRC also is a place where veterans
can find and befriend other veterans returning
to college. "When you first get out of the
service, you don't believe people in `the real
world' understand you," said Weeks, "and they
don't."
"Veterans are coming out of the very regulated
world of the military," explained Reppucci.
"Plus, when they do get out, many vets can be
physically and mentally very changed. College
is a whole new ball game," he said.
But often, just being around other student
veterans can help. "Not until they talk with
other vets who have been through this
transition, do they begin to see and adjust to
life outside the military," said Reppucci.
It's not always an easy transition to make, and
student veterans who may be having
difficulties are encouraged to seek out support
services. "Our vets come to us with a variety
of sometimes-complicated needs," said
Flaherty. "We have personal counselors here
at MCC that act as consultants assigned to
each veteran." For long-term or more
specialized support, students are referred to
appropriate resources in the community, she
explained.
Statics have shown that 60 to 70 percent of
returning veterans have issues related to
combat stress, explained Reppucci. And, in
many cases, these issues are identified by
family members the veterans can't see it
themselves, he added.
"I was talking to a new student vet who was
having some issues and I asked him, `What's
the hardest thing about coming back to
school?,' " recalled Reppucci. "And the guy
said, `Driving to class.' That really surprised
me but then I learned he had been driving
convoys in Iraq," he said.
"So, I just had to ask him, `Do you think
you're ready?,'" said Reppucci. After further
discussion, he referred the veteran to the VA
for further post-deployment stress counseling.
Even though the journey back to "the real
world" can be full of ups and downs, many
veterans are successfully making the transition
to college and beyond. "One of the most
rewarding things is to see vets, who may have
had some difficulty in the beginning, realize
they can succeed," said Weeks.
Kathy Register
New Stress & Resiliency
Course Just for Veterans
Next semester, Middlesex will offer a new one-credit
course just for veterans. Titled
Stress & Resiliency:
The Mind/Body Connection (PSY 156), the eight-week
course will be taught by Professor Bob Fera, Chairman
of MCC's Human Services Department and a licensed
mental-health counselor.
With support from the Ray and Grace Ciccolo Family
Foundation, Fera received special training to teach the
course through Massachusetts General Hospital's
Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine.
"This course is about looking at the connections
between the mind and body, and doing certain things
fairly simple, common things to reduce stress and
elicit a relaxation response, which improves health
and builds resilience," explained Fera.
"If you think about how this applies to veterans, who
have been under stress and duress for extended
periods of time, their bodies can be in a chronic hyper-
vigilant state they are always on guard," he said.
"When you stay in that state which is the human
body's normal `fight or flight' response you can
develop symptoms, such as insomnia, anxiety,
headaches and hypertension," said Fera. It can also
interfere with learning and relationships. However,
medical research shows that stress-reduction
techniques can be learned, Fera explained.
"There are many different ways you can help your
body go into a relaxed state, including physical
movement such as yoga or hiking, as well as mental
practices such as meditation or progressive muscle-
relaxation techniques," said Fera. Nutrition also plays
a role, he added, and will be covered in the course.
Stress & Resiliency: The Mind/Body Connection (PSY
156) begins Feb. 7, 2012, and meets Tuesdays from
noon to 2 p.m. for eight weeks on the Bedford campus.
For more information, contact Professor Bob Fera at
ferar@middlesex.mass.edu or 781-280-3918. For course
registration information, call 1-800-818-3434 or register
online at www.middlesex.mass.edu/registration/
Middlesex Again Makes List of Military-Friendly Colleges
Thanks to Middlesex Community College's Veterans Resource Center, Veterans Advisory Board and other special
veterans services, MCC has been named a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs two years in a row.
The 2012 list of Military Friendly Schools honors the top 15 percent of U.S. colleges, universities and trade schools
doing the most to embrace America's veterans as students. Schools on the list range from state universities and
private colleges to community colleges and trade schools.
The List of Military Friendly Schools was compiled by G.I. Jobs, an online magazine that polled more than 7,000
schools nationwide. For more information, visit www.militaryfriendlyschools.com, which features interactive tools
to assist military veterans in choosing schools. For more information about G.I. Jobs, visit www.gijobs.com
Celebrating MCC's collaboration with the Home Base
Program (front row): 2008 Olympic Sailing Gold Medalist
Maureen McKinnon Tucker of the Piers Park Sailing
Program for wounded veterans; (back row, left to right):
Michael Allard of Home Base, MCC President Carole Cowan
and MCC Foundation Board Member David Basile.
Profiles
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