It’s not our first rodeo…

Veterans, Civilians and Cadets

I heard the Student Government President talking about cadet-civilian relations. In fact, he suggested an executive cabinet position in order to improve those relationships. I don’t know much about that, but I do know I don’t fit in that dyad. We aren’t civilians and sure aren’t cadet members. I hate being grouped as a cadet.

I was sitting in Torgersen and talked to a student who asked why I wasn’t sitting with my friends – as she pointed to the cadets in the front row. I wish I had a soapbox to explain the difference. I’m not 18, young, naive, and protected. In fact, I am the exact opposite of those. I am a 31-year old protector with some wisdom and a plethora of experience that most people could only imagine.

I was reading an article from the Atlantic about other fellow veterans and a few words really stuck. “Universities have long been a place where young people develop a purpose in life. But for older students with wartime experience, those lessons have already been learned.” I couldn’t agree more, which is probably why I feel so disconnected. I am a different developmental level and place in life.

The first rodeo

Homer wrote the Odyssey about 600 BC. Who knew the message would foreshadow the experiences of so many veterans who are not returning home but rather to college campuses?

“If we did a better job of listening, history wouldn’t have to repeat itself.” This philosophy dictates my life. In fact, it was my sole reason for becoming a history major at Virginia Tech. How many times has such an influx of people like me.. required the university to alter protcols and procedures to meet needs. I recognize that it probably hasn’t happened for any person, but what about the institutional memory?

According to the VT website, world war I and II, Vietnam and Korea,  and now post-911 wars are producing nearly identical situations for students returning home. This isn’t a fad or a trend. It’s a reoccurring trend. And so, I hope to document my experience and the experiences of others to meet the needs of the next wave of veterans. I want to support the infrastructure and ideas that lay the ground work for this generation and many to come.



~ by shanemccarty on March 31, 2014.

One Response to “It’s not our first rodeo…”

  1. You make a good point – this is not a new trend its a reoccurring trend. You story is not isolated and needs to be taken much more seriously by faculty, staff, and administrators. We often forget that some of our objectives in college just don’t apply to older students and we need to do a better job speaking to those types of students directly!

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