Veterans are Coming to Campus

With the influx of people choosing to go back to school to earn their degrees, it’s no surprise that veterans coming back from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan are becoming increasingly more interested in finishing their educations as well.  Many veterans who are returning to school to complete their college educations are able to do so due in part to the GI Bill, which provides college education for returning veterans.  Some veterans returning to school are continuing the education they started before they joined the military service, or to guide other veterans to earn their degrees as well, as stated in The Boston Globe.

In Massachusetts alone, 7,400 veterans were enrolled in classes in college and universities this year.  And while many veteran students say that the transition has been a tough struggle, they are optimistic and are trying to share their stories to encourage other veterans to go back to school as well. Rich Jones, a 28-year-old veteran who completed two tours in Afghanistan, returned to Holyoke Community College after dropping out eight years earlier to join the military service. Jones, who says he drifted away from school first and was then recruited, is now the student body president and has made it a point to assist other veterans on campus to rejoin civilian life and attend school.

Another veteran, Andy McCarty, grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force after an unsuccessful run at college. McCarty spent the majority of his four-year enlistment in California, with the exception of a six-month deployment in Qatar. After watching and hearing of other friends who graduated from college, pursued their careers, got married and started families, McCarty left the Armed Forces to take a job at a university where he is also enrolled in classes. He has helped organize a veterans group, which aims at helping veteran students in their quest and new life and offers his help and advice to them.

Adjusting to civilian life and returning to school is a struggle for most veterans, as the lives they lived in the military were very different. Veterans face many struggles when trying to adjust back to the lives they had before because as at times, even being in a crowded area or hearing loud noises may seem dangerous to them.  Only other veterans knows the hardships and struggles that must be overcome, so it is important for actual veterans to take leadership positions and offer counseling and advice for other veterans.  Since many veterans are deployed or spend years in the military before returning to school, they generally tend to be older than the general population within colleges and universities, which can also be difficult. With the help of other veterans who have experienced the same things they have, hopefully, it will help make their transitions a bit easier.

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