Wheeling Jesuit University

Dr. Julie Osland's Psychology Students Turn Theory into Practice at Any Soldier Dot Com

Assignment continues with students taking online summer classes

WHEELING, WV, May 22, 2007 - Wheeling Jesuit University students put their learning into practice recently as they worked on a project to aid our soldiers in Iraq.

It began as a psychology class assignment this spring. Assistant psychology professor, Dr. Julie Osland came up with the project that required her students to visit the Web site, anysoldier.com, as part of their study of stress.
They had been studying symptoms of stress and successful ways of dealing with it in general psychology class.

AnySoldier.com offers the public a chance to send support, in the form of letters and supplies, to soldiers in harm's way, even when you have no idea what to send, who to send it to, or how to send it to our troops overseas. This Web site explains how to do it.

After the class identified a possible group of soldier contacts, they each picked a favorite contact and explained to Dr. Osland just why this contact was appealing. Students then narrowed it down to just one soldier contact and each student wrote a letter to this member of the armed forces, who distributed the letters accordingly.

Along with the letter-writing assignment, students applied their understanding of stress as they were learning about it in class, and identified the stressors soldiers must deal with daily. Not just the obvious anxiety of being killed, but things like living in the desert climate, the mid-Eastern culture shock and the stress of group living.

Students discussed these stressors and the way soldiers must deal with them as they explored life in the armed forces.

Students were also invited, but not required, to send items like toiletries and supplies if they wanted to. Many students donated supplies and Dr. Osland was happy to provide the boxes and mail them.

The assignment was so successful that Dr. Osland is making it part of her summer class that currently meets online and includes 15 students. She's very glad it worked out so well.

“Since many of the students were first year students themselves, they too are living away from home for the first time, like these soldiers and they understand some of the stress,” she said. “This assignment also emphasized service which is part of the Jesuit mission of service, with and among others, so it was a perfect fit for my class.”

She also said that the any soldier assignment was appropriate because the students are about the same age as many of the soldiers - and, several of her students have family or friends serving in the military, so it made this psychology lesson very personal for them.

According to the Web site, AnySoldier.com began with Sergeant Brian Horn from La Plata, Maryland, an Army Infantry Soldier with the 173rd Airborne Brigade who was in the Kirkuk area of Iraq when he started the idea of Any Soldier® to help care for his soldiers. He agreed to distribute packages that came to him with "Attn: Any Soldier" in his address to soldiers who didn't get mail.

Brian later completed a tour in Afghanistan and is now home, but AnySoldier.com continues larger then ever.

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