HOOAH!: Part of Something

Chad Graden
cgraden@css.edu

After serving many years in the military, most veterans feel the need to find a group or organization to belong to. It is hard to be a part of a close knit team that literally does everything together, only for it all to end one day. We can compare it to professional athletes; they may spend ten to fifteen years on a team, but then they retire and immediately lose it all. This is hard to deal with.

Members of the military eat together, work together, and fight together. They become so close that usually they become more than co-workers — they become a family. When that time is up, and a veteran comes home for good, they usually need to find something to belong to again.

Like everything else in life there are some bad results of this. After the Vietnam War, many vets came home and joined/formed biker gangs. Some vets today still go home and rejoin their street gangs they had before the enlisted. It is easy to get caught up in those things when you want that brotherhood back that a person had in the military.

Mostly though, veterans do things that are good. They find groups or organizations that do a lot of good for other people or themselves. They join the VFW, Moose Lodge, or Elk’s club. These are places that focus on community outreach and helping their communities. It is also a place for veterans to get a sense of belonging again, and a place to meet new friends that have many things in common.

The majority of the veteran students on our own campus have a small tight group that do things together. Every Wednesday night they go out for wings, and we even had our own softball team for a while. There are also those here on campus that volunteer to help other veterans in need. Anything from driving the “old-timers” to the VA clinic in Minneapolis, or serving food at nursing homes, it is nice to be a part of a family again.

So, there you have it, another example of the many good things veterans are doing for our communities. Veterans may sometimes have the stigma of being a little weird, or slightly crazy, but really all we want is to live as free life, be happy, and see the people around us be successful.