“On average, eighteen veterans take their life per day and 50 percent are diagnosticated with mental issues,” explains Bill Rose, a Marine veteran and a technical analyst in Enrollment Service at Arizona Western College.
Veterans with mental issues are more likely to be unemployed or homeless because they aren’t receiving the treatment they deserve, he adds.
On November 14, Rose presented an AWC event called Vet Net Ally at AWC, a program created by Marshall Thomas, the director of Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) Veterans Services, to establish a network of visible allies for veterans along with a supportive campus atmosphere.
Rose explains the experience of veterans, from enlisting to readapting to civilian life.
“Be careful about thanking veterans,” cautions Rose. “Not everyone had a positive experience. “Don’t ever ask, ‘Did you ever kill anybody?’ Instead ask, ‘How are you doing? Are you doing okay?’”
As part of the event, a panel of three Marine veterans – Maegan Quintana, Patrick Van Fleet and Kacey Cordell – answered questions about their services and their current experiences as students at AWC.
Rose asked the first question: “Transitioning from being a Marine to a student, what has been your experience?”
“It was extremely intimidating,” Cordell said. “Because whenever I was in, you don’t really think for yourself that much, but going to the Veteran Services office, they pretty much made it a lot easier and less stressful.”
“I didn’t know how civilian life worked,” said Van Fleet.
“Filtering myself was a big change,” Quintana said. “Because what is okay for conversation in the military is not technically okay in a professional student environment.”
“Veterans Services office is quite beneficial,” Cordell added. “To have our little environment where we are not quite as filtered in there, I think that’s pretty neat.”
“When I first got out, I was in a wheelchair,” Van Fleet said. “Veteran Services and this school in general helped me tremendously.”
All three would recommend enlisting in the military.
“Definitely recommend,” added Cordell, “if you’re looking for an overall evolution as far as your character.”
All three had to think hard about Rose’s the last question – “When you look back on your service, what's the one thing you’re most proud off?” – and the answer left the audience speechless.
“Coming back alive,” Van Fleet said.
Providing support, information and assistance for service members and veterans is the mission of Vet Net Ally, and attending one of these AWC events is a memorable experience. The campus community and the general public are encouraged to keep an eye out for veterans needing help, and to send them to Veteran Services, where their privacy and confidentiality are held sacred along with respect for their sacrifice.