Introducing PTSD

Proposal | As my senior interior design capstone project for the upcoming semester of Spring 2015, I have Proposed a Therapeutic Student Dormitory (PTSD). This blog will walk through the steps in the design process for this project. The following is my proposal:

Statement of the Problem | The military may make up a small percentage of the population, but it is an important group of American citizens. The death rate in battles has exponentially decreased in the last century, with more service men coming home wounded, but alive. According to the Department of Defense, more than 47,000 service men and women have been wounded in combat since 2001. An estimated 85,000 have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. (IDEO, 2012)The issue of PTSD is not something that needs to be taken lightly.

Another trend in the military-related field is the Victory Media’s Military Friendly® Schools list. This list is composed of the top 15% colleges, universities, and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military students and to dedicate resources to ensure their success in the classroom and after graduation (University News, 2014). The annual list consists of about 1,600 Military Friendly® Schools that have been approved for Post-9/11 GI Bill funding. These universities have excellent veteran services such as an ROTC program, full-time veteran counselors on staff, SVA chapter on campus, veteran clubs and associates on campus, and more. While these services play a huge role in making sure a veteran student is excelling in the university environment, the challenge is to think outside of the box and question, “Is there more?”

Yes, there is more that can be done. One aspect that is overlooked is the consideration of the living environment for these returning veterans that come to college on the GI bill. Many students will choose to live off-campus since most colleges waive the freshman requirement to stay on campus for veterans. There are a few who make the choice to stay in a college dormitory. However, in both of these living environments, the situation is less than ideal. Programs such as counselling and associates are great, but if at the end of the day, a veteran comes home to a place that does not make it easy to unlock the door, or creates stress when he hears the noises of partying residents next door, then these excellent programs have not done any good.

Therefore, I propose a living community for Appalachian State University, a Military Friendly® school that believes in the support of their military students, for individuals that are pursuing a college degree after recently returning from serving on the military. This living community will not be strictly for veterans diagnosed with PTSD, as to not create a stigma, but it will be a community of students bound together by a similar life experience – being part of the military. Instead of a living community for PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, it will be PTSD, a proposal for a therapeutic student dormitory.

Works Cited | Appalachian retains its military friendly school status. (2014, October 3). University News. Retrieved October 8, 2014, from http://www.news.appstate.edu/2014/10/03/military-friendly/
IDEO RESEARCH: HOMES THAT REBUILD LIVES. (2012). Metropolis: Architecture Design, 31(7), 49.

Design Philosophy and Intended Approach | I believe that the interior built environment plays a direct role in the mental, spiritual, and physical health of an individual. This can be either in obvious ways such as making the home exceed ADA requirements but it can also be done in psychological ways like how light can have a huge effect on one’s health. The solution to problems is good design.

I intend to incorporate these ideals into the project by doing extensive research on the symptoms and effects of different disorders, PTSD included, and how design elements and strategies can help. Extensive research and analysis will be done on the effects of lighting on a person’s health and mood, with an emphasis on daylight and orientation of the building. I also plan to study precendent buildings such as other colleges that have veteran housing options available as well as the other dormitories on Appalachian State’s campus in order to continue the branding. Sustainability, as it is important to Appalachian, will also be considered.

Justification of Boone, NC | Appalachian State University in Boone, NC is the ideal location for this project because the university is actively pursuing a way to be more supportive of military students. Distance online learning for military based in Fort Bragg have come up in the recent radar. Also, small town, beautiful Boone’s mountainous landscape is a relaxing and calming atmosphere that gives a stark contrast after recent military service.

As a current student at Appalachian State University, I plan to propose this plan to the university in hopes that this will start a discussion about housing situations for military students, and perhaps even take my plan and execute it.

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