In honor of Veterans Day tomorrow, a veteran’s panel was held at Central Washington University in the Student Union and Recreation Center Pit. Four individuals spoke about their military experience. They were all CWU students who served in the military.
I wasn’t really sure what I expected when I first heard about the panel. I had heard veterans talk before in school but for the most part they were older and talked about wars I had only read about in text books in history class. To say it was surprising to see people who were close to my age talk about how hard it was to transition between the military and civilian life would be an understatement. I think there’s this idea in our society that veterans are strong and capable individuals. It’s almost like we all think ‘of course veterans would be okay, why wouldn’t they be?’ And they are strong and capable but I think there’s this idea that they’ll be okay no matter what. When in reality, everyone needs help once in a while–even the strongest individuals.
Two students said the panel was hard to do because opening up to people is difficult and they both said the experiences they felt were hard to convey to people who had never gone through the military. I think it’s important to start a dialogue on what veterans feel and how they can transition smoothly in college and it definitely helped me understand them and what they are going through.
One student in the audience asked how people who aren’t veterans could make their lives easier and I felt this was a great question to ask them because it gives us a chance to make CWU a better place for everyone and make everyone feel welcome. The veterans answered that patience and support are two of the most important things to help them transition more smoothly.
I didn’t realize how difficult it is for a veteran to find a job after getting out of the service. One student spoke about how even if he had experience for a job, he would need a degree. Additionally, I learned there was a federally mandated program for military members before they get out to help them transition but as one student said, it wasn’t very helpful and no one took it very seriously. One student veteran spoke on how alone he felt because no one (except veterans) really understand what it’s like to go through the experiences he had gone through.
The students were all different ages as well so it gave everyone listening a broad view of what veterans feel and go through on a daily basis. It allowed all of us in the audience to understand the hardships veterans feel. I hope everyone felt like they could understand student veterans just a little bit better and can help them if they ever need help.