From bunkers to study groups, the Student Veterans of America Club are showing that although the transition from military life to civilian life is hard, they are here to help.
Your Drill Sergeant has become your professor, the person standing next to you is no longer the person you can intrust your life to and you traded in your boots for books. The switch back to civilian life from a one in military is hard to say the least, but the Student Veterans of America Club is doing its best to ensure that that transition is as easy as possible.
Christopher Mulrooney, an Army veteran, started the Student Veterans of America Club last semester after realizing that the one on campus had been inactive for a number of years.
Mulrooney learned about the club when attending Santa Monica College.
“Four years ago I went to Santa Monica College and they started a Veterans Club and created a veterans center. I came here last semester in the fall and saw that there was no club and decided as a veteran, I should get a veterans club started on this campus,” Mulrooney said.
“The purpose of the club is to have vets have a place to belong, to be with your fellow vets because who else is going to understand what you have been through as a veteran than other vets,” Vice President Mulrooney said.
The Student Veterans of America Club started last semester but has already become a family and the importance of the club is not understated.
“Once I came to Pierce and joined the Veterans Club, I actually started to experience more what college life is like. I have been building better, stronger bonds, and it’s getting me on the right track to where I want to go in life. I feel like these guys are helping me develop all the right tools,” club member and criminal justice major Eric Gonzalez said.
The club is not only a support group, but also a place for veterans to reach out for jobs and guidance. One of the hardest parts of the transition is figuring out what to do with your life when you come back from war.
“It’s building a community for the veterans because when we get out of the service we are sort of a little lost because we don’t really fit into the normal civilian world. The fact that we are meeting each other with similar experiences and backgrounds also really helps. It’s also a great network for meeting people, finding jobs, and helping each other in the places we are weakest,” Gonzalez said.
A lot of clubs on campus are for interests and hobbies, but what makes this club different is that it deals with the lives of these men and women. The impact clubs like these have cannot be brushed aside, as veterans struggle coming home from war and some even commit suicide to escape the struggles of adjusting to civilian life.
Club President Alexis Miguel, who served four years active duty in the Marine Corps and is now in his third year of the reserves, knows all about the struggles facing veterans and believes in the club wholeheartedly.
“I take this club very personally. There are a lot of statistics coming out and it’s unfortunate, but the suicide rate amongst the veteran population is quite high and I think clubs like this and organizations are geared to collecting all these veterans and letting them know everything is cool. Letting them know there is a safe place for them just to be themselves and share whatever they have to, and I think this club does that here for the student body at Pierce’” Miguel said.
21-year veteran of the Marine Corps John Johnson believes the club is making an impact on some veterans by helping them find jobs.
“The club is great because it has more networking for jobs and we are taking care of each other. Kind of like what we did in the service,” Johnson said.
“The few and the proud” is what this club is founded on. Not many people can relate to the struggles that veterans face.
“Being a vet, not a lot of people understand what you have been through or things you have done. Not to show any type of prejudice. I don’t think anyone can really associate what we have been through,” Johnson said.
“There is this camaraderie that you have in the military. You can trust a guy left and right with your life and this is a place for veterans to get a little bit of that back and let them know it’s not all that bad,” Miguel said.