Asking for Answers: Student veteran feels like “used gear”

Aurora Byrne, Staff member

Dear Answers,

Nine months ago, I was getting up at 0600, showering fast, and dressing for work.  I had a place to be and a reason to be there. Four years I spent in the Marine Corps, and when it was over, I came home but so many of my brothers haven’t. “Hurry up and wait” is something I’ve gotten used to while getting my benefits and G.I. Bill set up, but it’s worth it… or so I thought.  I’m halfway through my second semester and I’m completely miserable. I feel completely alienated from other students, my grades are suffering and I drink myself to sleep most nights.  I’m sinking to the bottom and can’t seem to motivate myself. I’m thinking about dropping out and giving it a go in the real world, but I’m trying to stick it out until the end of the semester. I’m afraid if I can’t get my head in the game, I’ll be stuck on the side lines. Is the struggle really worth it?

-Feeling like Broken Gear

Dear Gear,

You had to adjust and learn to be a soldier, now you have to adjust to being home and there is a learning process to becoming a veteran, just like there was to becoming a Marine.  It sounds like you feel alone, and although your civilian peers may not be able to relate to you, there are people, such as other veterans, who understand exactly how you are feeling.

Connecting with others and like-minded individuals and groups, is one of the most important coping mechanisms we have in life.

Knowing that someone else has faced the same obstacles, can make all the difference.

The Veterans Alliance, right here on campus, can be a great resource for you. They strive to help fellow veterans successfully adapt to academic life and the new demands that accompany school. They provide camaraderie, as well as advice and support on practicalities, like completing forms and paperwork and help you find your way around.

Many have seen the benefits of using the services and getting settled into their new lives and DVC.

The Veterans Alliance meets every Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Union, room 101.

I recently attended a Veterans Alliance meeting, to better inform myself about their services.

There, I had the opportunity to hear Maurice Delmer, Marine Corps veteran and an alumni of both DVC and Cal State University, speak about the challenges you and others are facing.

Delmer now serves as the Outreach Specialist at the Concord Vet Center. He wants all veterans to be aware of the essential services that are available through the Vet Centers, which include individual and group counseling, mental health and medical services, such as substance abuse help, sexual assault therapy and treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

All of the services offered at Vet Centers are completely confidential, even from the greater Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Vet Center hosts community events and get-togethers, which is another great way to connect with other vets. The Concord Vet Center also offers outdoor fitness facilities.

Delmer says that his adjustment to home life wasn’t so different from most soldiers, and that one of the things that he has found most helpful for himself was getting back in shape.

“Working out and getting strong again allowed me to regain my physical identity as a soldier,” he said. “As a strong, able-bodied individual. That did a lot for my mind as well.”

Exercise has many other benefits as well, such as relieving stress and depression, allowing you to sleep better, building confidence, and as Delmer mentioned, regaining your sense of identity and discipline. Chances are, if you’re feeling good and sleeping well, you are also less likely to drink.

The last advice I have for you is to think of your education as a mission, your objective now is to get an education, and to make the most of it. It makes sense to take courses that interest you, as long as they still fit your educational plan.

When you become interested and engaged in your studies and other activities within your college, it may make everything seem a lot brighter. Even though many of your classmates have had different experiences than you, everyone is here to learn and at the end of the day, everyone is a student, so you are not as alone as you might think.

School can be a very forgiving place to find yourself and learn to connect with people who really aren’t so different after all.

Delmer offered another wise insight.

“The transition home doesn’t actually end. You have to keep re-discovering yourself.”

Here to answer your most pressing questions. Relationship issues? Family tension? Wondering how to get involved on campus? If you ask, I will do my best to answer. Please submit your questions to: [email protected], with “Asking for Answers” in the subject line.