By Alejandro Holguin
Social Science Major, History Minor
When people talk about the difference between military and civilian life, the conversation is usually along the lines of discipline, training and culture. That is probably true, but the biggest difference to me after my deployment in Iraq was the intensity. Military service, especially when you are in a warzone, is profound. It’s not just the life and death situations, it’s everything that goes into and supports the people in the field. Every action is critical, every task is important and the people that surround you are all working to achieve the same mission.
Upon my return from Iraq I came home to a blessed and loving family of my wife and two (as of eight weeks ago) daughters. Yet, even in the best of home environments, there is a need to reconnect family relationships, which can be difficult.
When I honorably discharged from the Navy and entered Sierra College, I found it was difficult to develop an interest in my classes and activities – at least initially. It was hard to equate an exam or paper deadline to the experience left behind. I slightly felt socially out of place as an older student who contained a different frame of reference compared to average college students.
All of this leads to the need for veterans in the college setting to relate to someone – either a peer going through the same circumstances or a veteran advisor who is an example to incoming veterans who earned their degree(s). Within transferring to Sacramento State, I found both.
Within the first few weeks of my first semester I met Jeff Weston, the director of the Sacramento State Veterans Success Center. He shared with me his own experience as a veteran and a Sac State alumnus and the overview of a motivated veterans program. I selected Sac State because of the emphasis it puts on their veterans program and their knowledgeable Veteran Department staff. It is here I felt this university was a place for me.
The Veterans Success Center is an advantageous place for all veterans on campus. The Student Veteran Organization at Sac State is also an exceptional peer group and social network. The veterans here know they can turn to one another when they are in need academically, socially, or personally. We find camaraderie in sharing our stories, challenges and successes. We support each other in our educational mission to graduate prepared for the next stage of our lives and careers. In this mission, every action is critical, every task is important and the people surrounding us are dedicated to our success.
Note: Holguin is a work-study student in the Sacramento State Veterans Success Center and president of the Student Veteran Organization.