NORMAN — The Green Zone on the University of Oklahoma campus is not a place, but a network of faculty and staff who volunteer to provide specialized assistance for those students who have served in the military.
It started about two years ago as a project of the volunteer group Veteran Support Alliance.
In the beginning, it was just a list of tips how to best serve student veterans, said Jennifer Trimmer, veteran student services coordinator.
Then last fall, OU Green Zone began offering workshops to train interested faculty and staff. Trimmer was hoping to train 100 Green Zone volunteers across campus.
Today there are four times that many and counting. Each one displays a sticker at his or her office to signify “this is someone who knows a little bit more” about veterans’ needs, Trimmer said.
One of the four workshops presented was recorded so faculty and staff now can take the training online. Additional live workshops will be offered to provide updated information as needed, Trimmer said.
Most veterans at OU are four to six years older than the average student, political science professor Shad Satterthwaite said.
“If they have been deployed, their life experiences are going to be vastly different,” said Satterthwaite, faculty sponsor of the Student Veterans Association and a member of the Oklahoma National Guard who deployed to Afghanistan in 2003-04 and again in 2011-12.
“I think it’s a benefit. They enhance the discussion in class.”
But they may need help adjusting to the academic life, and often are reluctant to ask for help when they need it, Satterthwaite said.
It can be a challenge to go from “very scheduled, long days” in the military to what seems to be a lot of free time at college, he said.
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