At the completion of my first semester at UNR, the veteran center had become the place that made me feel comfortable about my decision to become a full-time student. Although there were student veterans there that served in all branches, the familiarity of the feeling of camaraderie was enough to keep me coming back for more. It was a cure for all the feelings of uncertainty and not belonging, that I felt when I first began classes on campus. They provided a space where I could be myself, and I didn’t have to explain my way of thinking or humor because everyone else around me was relatable and understood.
At the beginning of my second semester on campus, one of the coordinators at UNR veteran services ask me if I would be interested in becoming a work-study for their department. At first, the thought of it seemed a bit silly, considering I was commuting from Fallon, NV every day to go to school and the pay for the position was not enough to put food on the table, to say the least. What made me consider it was the thought of the struggles I faced during my transition to this new civilian life, and how I could help someone just like me navigate that journey successfully. Being the person I am, I decided to apply for this position, and I was accepted and started my second semester on campus as a UNR veteran services work-study.
What I learned from my time as a work-study was much more impactful to my successful transition than I could see at the time in the position. My job at the veteran center was to be the first engagement with students, whether it was participating in intellectual conversations or connecting student veterans to resources and assisting them in understanding their benefits, our purpose was to serve student veterans during their transitional journey. Seeing the need to help, and wanting to maximize the number of student veterans we assisted, I became the president of the Wolf Pack Veterans club on campus. My goal in taking this position was to find student veterans on campus that did not engage with the different programs we offered, and encourage them to utilize us as a resource or even a place to just come hang out; this was done by throwing social events, bringing important resources to the center to hold informational sessions, and encouraging student veterans to prioritize their mental and physical well-being.
I served as the president of WPV and a work-study for UNR veteran services for a little under two years. What I realized was that being able to redefine my community was so pivotal to my transition. When service members have to PCS to a new duty station it becomes a huge adjustment for both the member and their families. Their spouse has to find new jobs, kids have to change schools, and the entire family has to adapt to their new community. This doesn’t stop being important when you exit the military, veterans need to be able to create or find a new social community when they reacclimate to civilian life. Being a part of that community can be the difference for that veterans success in their transition. In what ways can you assist a veteran in their transition to civilian life? Please like my blog or leave a comment responding to my question.