by Catherine Guiles
Jan 15, 2008

When Stephanie Linn started attending the University of Iowa after serving as an Army medic in Iraq, the transition was “very, very, very difficult.”

“I had trouble sleeping when I came back because I was used to sleeping with bombs going off,” she said.

Linn also faced a disconnect with younger classmates.

“They didn’t understand why I was a 25-year-old freshman,” she said.

Linn is the president of Iowa’s Veterans Association, one of many campus groups nationwide for students who have served in the U.S. military.

She joined about 60 students from about 25 colleges who met Saturday in Hoffman Estates to form a national organization, the Student Veterans of America.

The group has three goals, according to president Derek Blumke, a student at the University of Michigan: provide campus resources for veterans; establish groups where none exist; and “advocate on a national level” on issues such as improving the GI Bill.

“Having a veterans group makes it standable to be on campus,” said Blumke, who served in the Air Force for six years and is in the Air National Guard.

Students can have “the bonds they’ve got with the same kind of people they served with.”

Lombard native Jason Adameic, a graduate student at Eastern Illinois University, said the conference gave him information on benefits that he didn’t know before.

Like Linn, he faced some difficulty when he started college at EIU.

“Whenever the topic of Iraq would come up, [classmates] would tell me how it was,” the Marine veteran said. “Sometimes I would bite my tongue.”

However, Blumke said many students support veterans.

“They understand that there’s a difference between the war in Iraq and the people fighting,” he said.

The group is planning another conference this spring in Washington, Midwest regional director John Mikelson said.

©2001 – 2013 Medill Reports – Chicago, Northwestern University. A publication of the Medill School.