A Non-traditional Student and a Veteran

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This blog post was written by Steven Bussard

            I am a “non- traditional” student (someone going to college that is over the age of 23 according to the GCC website) and a Veteran of the U.S. Army.  I tried college before in the 80’s, but never finished due to personal reasons.  I bounced around from job to job and state to state not really having a direction in my life. I never really appreciated the clout a college education holds until after transitioning out of the military. I had a very well-paying job in Florida, which I loved, at a simulations company, but when it came time for layoffs it was the people that had certificates or degrees that kept their jobs.  So now I am doing what I should have done so many years ago.

I am a son of a U.S. Navy Veteran.  I was born on a Navy base in Bermuda, and then my family was transferred to Norfolk, Virginia where I grew up.  For those of you who do not know the Norfolk or Virginia Beach area is one of the top ten cities with the most military installations in the U.S. My life was going in the wrong direction for quite a long time and I needed a stable environment so I joined the U.S. Army Military Police Corp at 27 years old.  It was during the Gulf War in 1991, but I never got a chance to go to Iraq because 4 days prior to my first day of basic training the Iraqis gave up.   I suppose they heard I was joining (just kidding).  After basic training I was stationed in Camp Darby, Italy which is just outside of Pisa.  I spent 3 years there and whenever I could I traveled Europe because I may never get this chance to do it later in life.  I honeymooned in Paris, France (and the people are not as rude as other Americans would like you to think), spent time in Germany, Hungary, Austria.

Through this time in the Army I learned more about respect and a sense of duty. You start to understand what role the veterans that came before you had to go through, I am sure some of those experiences were worse than mine.  There is a strong sense of brother/sisterhood in the Army and in the other services that is hard to explain to someone that has never been in the military.  I knew when I was in trouble my military brothers/sisters had my back.  I would imagine that is why once we transition out of the military we tend to gravitate toward other veterans because we know that that trust is still there, a feeling we sometimes cannot get from our own families.  That is also why we are so patriotic and respectful to all veterans from WWII, Vietnam, to now.  Even though you did not serve with that veteran the sense of gratitude and brotherhood is still there.  You see we just picked up the torch where they left off.  I like this little ode written by an unknown author “A Veteran Is Someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.’” That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it. I don’t know what happened to this country since the end of WWII but the respect we should give to all veterans has declined.  To many, Veterans Day is just another holiday or a day off.  It is a day to honor those who have served their country the living and the dead. I for one will never forget that our veterans fight for our freedom every day.  Not just the ones on the front line, but all who have served.  For me, every day is a day for honoring our vets.

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