Student Veterans with Invisible Disabilities: Accommodation-Seeking in Higher Education

September, 2017

This conceptual article aims to investigate the barriers student veterans with invisible disabilities face when seeking academic accommodations. The study found that student veterans may be less likely to disclose an invisible disability due a combination of the four following contextual factors  1) the jeopardy of a double stigma; 2) lack of cultural competence among educators and persons providing academic support services; 3) student apprehension in asking for help; and 4) a potential cultural mismatch between student veterans and their non-veteran peers. The findings suggest that stigma barriers held by student veterans may be overcome by assisting students in engaging in re-framing or thought restructuring of their negative perceptions. The study concludes by making recommendations for further research


Large numbers of recent generations of U.S. military veterans are returning to postsecondary education, as they utilize the Post-9/11 GI Bill. However, some of these student veterans may have invisible/non-apparent disabilities such as, posttraumatic stress disorder or other mental health issues that may impact their ability to readjust to the learning environments in educational settings. Minimal research assesses factors impacting student veterans’ disclosure of their disability to receive accommodations. Authors conducted a literature search of military veterans and help-seeking behaviors in higher educational settings based on the criteria of: 1) pertaining to stigma among student veterans/with a non-apparent disability; 2) barriers to engaging in help-seeking behaviors; and 3) acquiring services in a non-military postsecondary educational setting. 15 articles met our search criteria, and offer contextual factors that if accounted for, may make some student veterans more willing to disclose to seek classroom accommodations for a non-apparent disability should the need arise. We conclude by applying theories and recent empirical findings related to enhancing veterans’ willingness to address mental health issues and help-seeking behaviors in higher education.

Full Reference

Kranke, D. A., Weiss, E. L., & Constanine Brown, J. (2017). Student Veterans with Invisible Disabilities: Accommodation-Seeking in Higher Education. Journal of Veterans Studies, 2(2), 45–57. DOI:

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