After the attacks of 9/11, a new generation of veterans was formed, with many of them now pursuing their education at Pierce College.
Christopher Sorbello and Kort Huettinger were some of the few brave men who, after serving their duty, came home to find that there were not enough resources available to help them adjust back into civilian life.
“The reason I came back to school was because there were no jobs when I got back in August 2007,” said Sorbello, who served six years in the army, including one tour of duty in Afghanistan, and two tours of duty in Iraq.
“When they [veterans] come back… the odds are stacked against them,” he said. “The reason why we started the club is more of a helping hand to let them know they are not alone and that we’re there to support them in any way we can.”
After three years of pushing for a club that would help with the rehabilitation process of student veterans, Sorbello, with the aid of fellow veteran Huettinger, was able to establish their first official meeting in the fall of 2010.
Although the club was established three semesters ago, they still face hurdles ahead, including the equal treatment and resources that are provided to other clubs on campus and a need for an official place to meet.
“I think it’s important to get a place to meet like many other student groups… For now we’re just having to reserve a room here and there,” said Patrick Salazar, club advisor and founder of the Veteran Association of the University of Utah.
Aside from providing educational, financial, counseling and other forms of support, the club’s mission is to bring awareness of how important it is to provide proper treatment of veterans. Their hope is to prevent future veterans from ending up forgotten or on the streets like many
veterans of the Vietnam War and other previous wars.
“Say ‘thank you,’ there’s not enough of that,” said Huettinger, who was docked in San Francisco while serving in the Coast Guard during the time of the attacks. “Some people, for whatever reason think that veterans don’t deserve anything extra and there are people that don’t care.”
This semester, the club hopes to start a petition that students can sign in order for them to receive the benefits they feel they deserve. They encourage all students, no matter what their political standings are, to support their mission for proper treatment.
“It’s an honor to work with these guys [Sorbello and Huettinger],” said Salazar. “ They could have just stayed home and gotten their own degree. Their service to these students is just remarkable and that’s why I’m proud to know these guys.”