Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Marilou Ryder, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Carlos Guzman, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michael Kahler, Ed.D.


With the downsizing of U.S. military personnel and increased educational benefits offered by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, many Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veterans will enroll in a community college for education and training opportunities (Vacchi, 2012). A review of literature revealed the majority of OIF/OEF combat veterans in higher education suffered from symptoms consistent with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; Ackerman, DiRamio, & Garza Mitchell, 2009; American Council on Education, 2009; Cate, 2014). The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the unique challenges experienced by OIF/OEF veterans diagnosed with PTSD when attending community college in southern California through in-depth qualitative analysis. A second purpose was to describe the support services that OIF/OEF PTSD veteran students perceived to be helpful to their academic success. Data were obtained through focus groups to capture an in-depth understanding of their transition from the military to higher education and their collegiate experiences. Results showed the challenges these veterans faced on a daily basis and how PTSD impacted their academic experiences. With the findings from this study, postsecondary institutions can implement new or improve existing support services for this unique student population, and build a campus culture and environment for OIF/OEF veteran students with PTSD that promotes learning and success.