Shortly after WW2 my father, like many other Canadian and US veterans, started new campaigns on campuses – in my Dad’s case, it was McGill University in Montreal, which until very recently had been a bastion of the privileged. He only told me a few funny stories about what it was like, but reading this fascinating NYT account of a new geenration of veteran students helps me understand my dad’s journey a bit more. MP+

Cameron Baker, an Air Force veteran, in class at Columbia.

January 9, 2010
From Battlefield to Ivy League, on the G.I. Bill
Cameron Baker, an undergraduate at Columbia University, made a point of wearing a “Coalition Forces” T-shirt at the start of the fall semester. He was not bragging or making a collegiate attempt at ironic humor.

Mr. Baker, 26, really was among the coalition forces, having done back-to-back deployments to Iraq with the Air Force and three more years there with a private contractor. He wore the shirt to quietly broadcast his involvement in Iraq, alerting professors and classmates to tread lightly should the conversation turn to war.

It was a different coping mechanism that backfired on him.

Mr. Baker gravitates toward the front of classes to compensate for hearing loss from repeated exposure to mortar fire. Recently, in his course “Issues in Comparative Politics,” a professor played a short news clip about the electoral process in Iraq. For a split second, a roadside bomb went off in the video, and Mr. Baker, caught off guard and right up close, started shaking.

“I wasn’t in the classroom anymore,” he said later that day. “I wasn’t transported all the way back to Baghdad, but I could feel just the rush of emotions that accompanies something like that — the immediate adrenaline rush, the anxiety that comes with it, the hypervigilance, when I start trying to become very aware of my surroundings, to ensure that nothing is going to go off behind me.”

Read the whole story here.