The first class of Michigan State University students trained to help combat veterans will graduate this week. It’s called the Combat Veterans Certificate Program.
There are no textbooks or lectures. Instead, seven veterans instruct social work graduate students through videos.
Tina Blaschke-Thompson works for the MSU program. She says MSU is the first university in the country to focus on combat veterans in this way. She says, "For this sub-population of the military, the trauma of war brings about a whole different host of challenges that are experienced as a result of combat."
Blaschke-Thompson's husband is a combat veteran who served 8 years in the Marine Corps. She said she watched his transition into the civilian world and the challenges that arose.
Students wear dog tags, relive 9/11 through text messages, video clips and audio; and receive ready to eat meals. Blaschke-Thompson says, "It's for them to get a little closer to what that experience is like, so that they can at least empathize with the experience of combat veterans that they will run into in their social work practice."
MSU says more than twenty vets take their own lives everyday nationally. They hope this program will help mental health professionals be more equipped for this suicide epidemic.