On November 11th, we celebrated Veteran’s Day. This reminded me of all the people who served before me, with me, and are still serving today. Leaving the Marine Corps was something I regretted for many years. I couldn’t help but think about the challenges I faced while transitioning into what has largely turned into a life in academics. The thing is, this can be very difficult for many veterans. I’d like to reach a hand to those who might need us and who might profit in the same way I have. Today, I’d like to focus very specifically on the student veteran population.
For me, transitioning back into civilian life was harder than joining the Marine Corps. I left a lifestyle that I loved and I couldn’t adjust to living happily as a civilian. While trying to adapt after years of active duty could be considered entertaining, I didn’t fit in with the general student population. I stood out in the classroom, and not in a good way. For one, my humor was vulgar and inappropriate. But this was just the tip of the conflict.
I was sad. I had left behind a very close-knit family. I had left behind what was, at the time, my largest personal and professional goal. But I didn’t figure that out until it was too late. So I spent the next few years hoping I would be recalled and deployed. And this was the secret world that I lived in, behind the scenes of my life as a single mom and full-time student.
While it’s true not every veteran struggles, I know I’m not the only one. Student veterans are accomplishing multiple transitions at one time. They are learning how to be successful students while sometimes not having much in common with peers. They have lived with different priorities, specialties, and a very different perspective of the world. They are transitioning back into civilian life.
A lot of research and development has gone into the building of a Marine, but very little has gone into building a civilian out of a Marine. The process of transitioning out of active duty can leave veterans short of prepared to adapt on their own. They can be isolated, and left to achieve their goals alone. The most difficult part can be figuring out who you are when you come back.
And then there is homework.
After years of not fitting in and wishing to go back to active duty, I eventually found solace in academia and support at the Writing and Communication Center. As a peer consultant and a veteran, I want my fellow students, especially veteran students, to know that we are here for them and want to help with the demands of student life as much as possible. So if you or someone you know needs a hand with getting through the adjustment and meeting the demands of academic life, please feel comfortable and inclined to come to the Writing and Communication Center for help. It’s what we’re here for.
Photo: courtesy of Wordherder at http://www.flickr.com/photos/42533752@N06/4949974100.