CWU veterans answer student’s questions

Samuel Beaumonte, Staff Reporter

This Friday is Veteran’s Day and Central is celebrating early with a veterans panel in the Student Union Recreation Center (SURC) Pit at 4 p.m. this Thursday, where four veterans have volunteered to sit in the panel and answer student’s questions about military service and what comes afterward.

“We have a few questions that have been established from previous panels that we’ll be addressing,” senior Steven Foy said, a student veteran pursuing a psychology major and human resources minor who came up with the idea and setup for this year’s veterans panel.

While a few questions from previous panel will be touched upon, the panel will be focusing on talking about questions posed from the audience.

“I wanted to reinvent the ways Central and it’s students celebrate veterans day,” Foy said. “It’s kind of a joke in the veteran community and it feels like more of an obligation for civilians. Changes I’d like to see is more involvement between students and veterans so that it’ll be easier for them to share their stories and not be ashamed of it.”

Senior Joel Ortega, a psychology major with a minor in business management helped with the setup for this year’s veterans panel with a similar goal of Foy’s in mind.

“We’re basically trying to build that bridge between veterans and civilians and breaking down stigma,” Ortega said. “We want to bridge that gap and make the connections more friendly. We want to recognize veterans and let them know that they’re not alone.”

Veterans returning from active duty often report problems acclimating to civilian life, the panel is just one of the ways for veterans and student veterans alike to share their stories with civilians who may not understand what it’s like coming back from a life in the military.

“They feel neglected, like they’re at the bottom of the food chain when they come back with so many hoops and hurdles to go through with the veteran’s administration,” Ortega said.

Foy speaks from personal experience when he talks about veterans and how they feel after returning, and his viewpoints are shared with many of the student veterans who will be participating in the panel.

“Veteran’s feel like they’re in the shadows when they get back, losing their sense of purpose and sense of community,” Foy said. “As a whole they go through a lot of phases from military service and acclimating back to civilian life can be very hard.”

When it comes to recovery veterans commonly turn to each other for support, and while veteran services offer assistance many veterans have experienced difficulty while working through government regulations.

“The veteran population around the country is [about] 3 percent, while .47 percent served in current wards and .97 percent of the country is actively serving,” Foy said. “The veteran community is not big enough to make a change in the government but they are big enough to help each other out. We want civilians to understand the problems in how the military deals with soldiers leaving the military.”

Foy hopes that the panel will help educate the public about the issues veterans face, and the difficulties they have with government policies and as a goal he wants the student community’s help in making government change.

“It’d take the whole civilian population to make a government change, as a veteran myself I appreciate those that are standing up for us,” Foy said.