ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Veterans say that one of the toughest things they encounter when they return home is getting back into the swing of things after war. Now the University of Texas at Arlington is helping them do it. UTA is offering programs which provide more counselors to help the returning veterans.
At the “Movin’ Mavs Muster” at UTA, veterans learn new ways to enjoy sports — from wheel-chair basketball to archery. “Sports are used as a tool to help soldiers transition to civilian life after service, and to encourage them to continue their studies,” said Movin’ Mavs Coach Doug Garner.
To Army Specialist John Coker, it is no ordinary basketball game. Instead it is a game of life. One that is tailored specifically for wounded warriors returning from war. Two bullets changed Coker’s life last year in Afghanistan. “I was shot in my right leg which was a graze and then I was shot in my left leg which scattered my femur,” Coker said. “From my knee down I can’t use my leg… it’s kind of numb.” Coker, a veteran from Oklahoma, said he is trying to get back to his normal lifestyle he had before he was wounded.
According to Dr. Alexa Smith-Osborne, Associate Professor at the UTA School of Social Work, these programs help veterans connect with mind and body. “Healing potentially can occur for different sorts of brain damage that [an] individual may have encountered in their military services including mild traumatic brain injury from blast exposure” said Smith-Osborne.
UTA has seen a spike in enrollment as more and more veterans join the student ranks. So the school sees a need in trying to help as many veterans as possible with programs such as the Movin’ Mavs Muster.
For Army Specialist Coker – and others like him – every little bit helps… With exercise for the mind and body helping them become whole again.
Starting this fall the School of Social Work at UTA will offer graduate students the opportunity to learn how to better serve veterans returning home. UTA expects about 1,000 veterans to be enrolled in fall 2012 courses according to the university’s web site. That figure represents a little more than a 50 percent increase over the 525 veterans that enrolled at the University during both the fall and spring 2009 semesters.