Lessons Learned From Our Veterans
Published: Friday, May 4, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 4, 2012 01:05
Over 25 students at Lyndon State College are veterans.
Many of these students have different attitudes about college because of their experiences.
One of these things is respect for authority figures.
“It’s because of the discipline in the military,” says Mark Hoffmann, president of the LSC veterans club. “When someone is up front speaking, you owe them the respect of listening.”
Hoffmann served 27 years in the Army, and has now been retired for 8 years. He is graduating this May with a Bachelor’s degree in business.
Dennis Querrard, who has been retired from the navy for four years after serving for 20, agrees with Hoffmann, saying he gets frustrated when there are students talking amongst themselves in the back of the classroom, or using computers while the professor is lecturing.
“We don’t expect that here,” says Querrard.
The change of structure is something that also bothers Mark Emerson, who served in the Air Force for 21 years. He retired 10 years ago, and is now a junior studying environmental science.
“I was used to being in the military where there is always that set of rules you have to play by,” says Emerson. He says the lack of structure in school is, “nerve wracking. I miss my structure. It’s hard to adapt.”
It is also a different experience for them socially than it is for traditional students.
“We don’t bond the same way,” says Querrard. “We don’t have the same connections. You generally find yourself communicating with other veterans because it’s hard to communicate with non-veterans. We have a different perspective.”
Hoffmann adds, “I think we’d rather talk together about world events than about what we did this morning or last night.”
Most vets also feel that they are more serious about school than the average student coming straight from high school. This is both because of their experience in the military, and also because they are generally older than students right out of high school.
Querrard says, “We see the benefits we’re going to get out of it. We have seen what it’s like to work in the outside without an education, whether in the military or not.”
Hoffmann adds, “Going to college is not a right, it’s a privilege. For the veterans, it’s definitely a privilege.”
One of the few female veterans on campus, Liz Harrison, has been in the army for four years.
“Being older in school and having experienced different things is an advantage,” says Harrison.
She also says that she feels that she has learned to appreciate life more because of her experiences.
“Sometimes people in general don’t think that you’re time here is precious,” says Harrison. She’s learned to appreciate life more since she’s been in the Army “because you don’t know when you’re on a mission if you’re coming back, [or] if you’re going to be hit.”
Harrison also spoke about some of the trials that she faced in the military.
After seeing someone who was close to her die and not being able to say her last words, she lives by the phrase, “live each day as it were your last, you only have one chance.”
Emerson says that worst part for him of serving in the Air Force was holidays.
“I just tried not to think about them. I made it home for Christmas twice in 21 years,” says Emerson.
Hoffmann says it is harder for the families than it is for the soldier.
“It’s really tough on the families. The family misses them every day. They know that member of the family is not there and they are probably in harm’s way,” says Hoffmann.
He says that the soldier at least has the distraction of the job, and they can focus on that.
The veterans agree that life in the military was a challenge and they feel like it has taught them a lot.
“I wanted to serve my country,” said Harrison. “I’ve always wanted to be in the military. I wanted a challenge.”
Hoffmann agrees that he was looking for more of a challenge, after going to college and earning an associate’s degree right after high school.
“I was looking for something more. I get bored really easy and in the military, it was always different,” Hoffmann says.
Emerson says his favorite part was the traveling.
“I loved it. I love traveling. I went everywhere. I still want to see the Great Wall of China, go to Italy, go to New Zealand,” says Hoffmann.
The main thing that Hoffmann, as the veteran club president, wants is for more people to be aware of veterans on campus.
We are making it aware to the Lyndon State College that veterans are here,” says Hoffmann.