|Discussion targets issues of combat, returning home|
|Written by Daniel Fox, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Tuesday, 27 November 2012 21:55|
The Veterans Study Center in Moulton 110 was standing room only for a roundtable discussion on a variety of topics related to student veterans at the Veterans T.A.L.K. 2012 Tuesday.
Topics discussed ranged from problems with benefits, employment and housing to conflicts with deployment and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Moderator Vance Godbold, Diversity Advocacy Sr. specialist assistant, got the discussion underway. He opened the floor for attendees to share their experiences.
The talks started with the group discussing possible problems pertaining to financial benefits awarded to veterans and problems they incur with employment.
“The problem is with certification,” Edric Arana, president of Veterans at Illinois State, a chapter of Student Veterans of America, said. “A lot of our jobs in the army — when we get out — the certification doesn’t carry over.”
Part of the problems veterans face could be a result of a decline in representation in our government.
Representation of veterans in Congress is dwindling. At its peak from 1971-1980, 75 percent of congress was represented by veterans. From 2010 to the present it is at 22 percent,” Godbold said.
“While 22 percent is significant, it is not at 75 percent like it was at its peak,” Godbold added.
“I feel that the amount of assistance that is going towards veterans throughout that gap has increased,” Mike Tonkovic, junior economics major, said. “Whether or not there are veterans in Congress, the amount of assistance has increased. They are trying to get more care for veterans.”
Opinions about what role the government plays in regards to veterans’ assistance flew around the room with an array of different views being expressed.
“Primarily, I feel that the government is giving the people the lip-service they demand — they are doing the bare minimum they can,” Michael McCallister, freshman English major, said. “They’ve been slowly slashing benefits, they’ve been slowly slashing budgets, and they’ve slowly been slashing people out of the military itself.”
One of the biggest problems a veteran can face after returning to the states is PTSD. Assimilating back into society after combat is something that cannot be ignored. For those not familiar with military deployment, McCallister shared some of his combat experience with the group.
“In Iraq, I got blown up once, specifically shot at three times. I was in fire fights about two or three times a week,” McCalister said. “In Afghanistan, my first three months, we were in fire fights at least once a month. We had mortars dropped on us about once a week. We had RPG shot at us about every other week.”
Now, McCallister prefers to have his back against the wall in order to keep an eye on his surroundings. He is happy that he does not suffer from the nightmares others have struggled with, but, he said he still suffers from insomnia.
Arana said, for him the best therapy is each other. Finding a place where veterans can talk to each other and share experiences.
The event was the first of its kind and was sponsored by Diversity Advocacy, Veterans at Illinois State and Veteran Services.