Letter from the writer: This is for the veterans
World War II Marine veteran William Sherrill said in his speech last Friday, “You have to feel you’re worthwhile in order to be happy. The Marine Corps gave me that.”
I empathized with him; prior to joining the service, I was going to school on and off and working at a department store. This made me think, if I were to die at that moment, what would my gravestone say? Where was I going in life? This is why I decided to join the Marine Corps. Like Sherrill, I finally felt I was doing something constructive; I felt worthwhile and happy.
But what happens when you get out and suddenly that life you once knew was no longer present? Nobody knows this, but last November I almost hurt myself. I had a mental breakdown, and my depression was something I had been suffering for the past few months, even before I had gotten out. In the hospital, speaking to my father about it made me more frustrated; he didn’t understand what I was going through. Nor did my sister, whom I was close to at the time and whom I have not spoken to for almost six months. I felt too ashamed and alone to speak to anyone about it other than my doctors.
We learned in the military that no man or woman is left behind. Just because the contract has ended and we took off our uniform does not mean taking care of each other does. The Center for Student Disabilities and Counseling and Psychological Services will help you succeed and make your academic journey a smooth one, and then there’s the Veterans Services office and program coordinator and Army reservist Sgt. Lawren Bradberry, who will help you figure out how to pay for your tuition with the GI Bill or the Hazlewood Act.
Lastly, there are the veterans; for the first semester, I felt I was an outsider. Not because I was going through “Billy Madison” syndrome, but because the structure was absent. However, I am grateful for the Veterans Services office. Walking into a room of veterans where you can exchange stories, relax and be yourself was healing.
When I heard from a veteran she had gone through the same experience I had, I wanted to cry. It was then I realized I was not — am not — alone. For it is these people who had helped me heal and helped me move on and push myself through this mentally and academically.
Thus, this section is for the veterans: the outgoing and the incoming. This is not to tell you that the process of coming home will be an easy one, nor will the next chapter in your life. Nevertheless, your next mission in achieving that degree is possible. Please know that you are not alone; you will never be.