By Cendri Johnson
Veterans Day is coming up fast. The holiday will be on Friday, Nov. 11, but to many people, Veterans Day can seem distant and irrelevant to our everyday lives, especially considering how most students don’t have classes on Friday and may even forget all about the holiday in general. In an attempt to dispel this ignorant feeling that resides in so many of us, I interviewed several veterans on campus about their experiences in order to show all of us how we walk among heroes every day and why we should take the time to recognize and thank them for their service.
SCC Veterans interviewed include Zachary Palomo (U.S. Air Force), Coleton Stinson (U.S. Marine Corps), Bradley Newbould (U.S. Coast Guard), Ben Hicks (U.S. Coast Guard), Jordan Smith (U.S. Army), Daniel Kofoed (U.S. Army), Scott Blake (U.S. Army), and Nathan Grimm (U.S. Marine Corps).
So why do people tend to join the military in the first place? Answers differ, but for many, it has to do with needing to grow up or just looking for an alternative option to college at the time of enlisting. Jordan Smith had one story that truly took guts: “I did it without telling my family … I realized, ‘I don’t have anything else to do’, so I joined the army … I needed discipline.”
Others felt like this choice was more of a spur-of-the moment decision: “When I enlisted, it was necessary for me … my options were pretty limited … I needed to get my life back into order … but I didn’t really look into my options,” Coleton Stinson said.
When asked what they missed about the military, most of the answers were consistent; they missed “the structure and the brotherhood,” as said by Daniel Kofoed.
“When you come back home, you have all the time in the world to do whatever you want, you kind of don’t have direction… the devil’s tool are idle hands,” said Scott Blake.
When one is on active duty, Hicks explains it as, “It’s super simple; you know exactly what’s expected of you … you have zero responsibility except your job … it’s easier than ‘adulting.’” Multiple people also cited missing “the paycheck,” according to Zachary Palomo.
One tough transition from military to normal life was getting used to interacting with people not from the military.
“You have a baseline with everybody … Everyone has like this common ground whereas here everyone has such diverse backgrounds that it can be difficult to get that conversation initiated,” said Stinson.
Similarly, Smith said, “Everyone is kind of held to a standard …. when you’re not in the military, everyone is holding themselves to a different standard.”
Another recurring theme among these veterans was, as Newbould said, the feeling that “Shoreline helped.” SCC’s reputable veterans and transfer programs were key in leading many veterans to attend school here.
While some veterans said that they wouldn’t join if given the chance to go back and do it again, most claimed that they would hands down choose the military if given a do-over.
So what would these veterans say as advice to young people considering joining the military?
“Choose that decision for yourself … make sure it’s something you want.” (Grimm)
“Don’t be stupid …Try to learn from it, try to let it form you, don’t try to form it.” (Blake)
“Do your research.” (Kofoed)
“Speaking to young women I would say it is not for everybody… you need to respect yourself first before you expect any other people to respect you.” (Smith)
“Don’t take the recruiter’s first offer … Be your own advocate …The government is going to get what they want out of you, so make sure you get what you want out of it.” (Hicks)
“Work out real hard.” (Stinson)
“Don’t do it!” (Palomo)
“Make sure you’re really willing to give up what you need to give up … .before you join. Are you willing to potentially lose a limb, lose your life?” (Newbould)
In regards to themselves, the veterans ask for no special treatment. Simply, be kind.
So please remember to thank the veterans in your life. They’ve made sacrifices and risked their lives to protect us. The least we can do is say thank you.