Never in Vain

Fred Matamoros / MCT Campus

By: Jorge Campos

Getting an education should never be a veteran’s burden — it should be a veteran’s reward. 

Veterans leave the military with a sense of pride and self worth, feeling like they just did something that not many others have the fortitude to do. They are completely right, until they walk onto a college campus, that is.

Being in the military opens your eyes to the ruthless world around you. It is for the most part a rude awakening; something you have to live through or experience to understand.

When you reach End of Active Service or EAS, you walk away with a sense of accomplishment, knowing that nothing else this world throws at you is harder than what you just did.

Walking onto a college campus is an intimidating experience for a kid fresh out of high school, let alone a veteran of the armed forces. Getting back into the flow of things is harder for veterans because they have not had formal schooling in years.

The difficulty is compounded by younger students who are indirectly unappreciative of veterans.

A glance around most colleges reveals catty gossip, students whining about added homework assignments and a general sense that they lead grueling melodramatic lives. For a veteran, this notion is insulting.

After a veteran’s term of service, ranging from four to 12 years, education is a reward — not a punishment, as some students view it.

There is a general lack of empathy towards student-veterans, which is unsurprising given that only about 0.5 percent of Americans are enlisted service members, compared to about 12 percent during World War II.

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The perception of veterans has changed drastically since then. The days of joining up in a wave of patriotic fervor to overcome a despot are gone. With the widespread use of drones and robots, civilians gain the impression that wars are not only distant, but that military personnel are far from harm’s way. It’s not the case.

Veterans are often the silent minority on college campuses.

Students need to appreciate the services that they have performed for them both domestically and overseas.

They can start by valuing the simplicity of their lives, and even being grateful for the extra homework assignments they receive.

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