Many student veterans throughout campus are finding it difficult to address the negative experiences of serving in the armed forces.
Currently, there are over 300 self-identified veterans on the university’s campus. Often these veterans deal with questions regarding their experiences after deployment. However, for many veterans on campus, questions regarding killings or the death of a comrade can be an emotional topic.
Ferris State University’s Veterans Association Treasurer Christopher Conger says this is because of the strong relationships veterans develop with one another. Conger says the bond between veterans is often as strong as the bond between families.
“After spending months away from your family, you begin to build a new family with the people you serve with,” said Conger.
He said this bond is built on the belief that each veteran holds special responsibility over the lives of their fellow members.
“You have to have that bond because they’re the one who may save your life,” said Conger.
A member of the Air Force’s 49th Security Forces, Conger says television portrayals of the military are often not an accurate reflection of a veteran’s experiences. He says it is these unknown factors that often raise questions concerning the loss experienced during war.
Veteran Program Specialist Paul Langdon also agrees that the question of losing fellow veterans is one that too often raises negative memories.
“The army builds lasting relationships with people we know we may never see again,” said Langdon.
Serving previously in the army, Langdon has dedicated his military experience toward helping Ferris veterans. He says serving his country has given him a strong sense of self-discipline. More importantly, Langdon says the military has provided him the drive to find answers throughout life. It is this drive he applies towards helping veteran students on campus.
“When I went to school, I had the same questions I see students with now,” said Langdon. “I feel that I can relate to them about their experiences.”
The Ferris State University Veterans Association is a campus RSO also meant to provide veteran students answers regarding their experiences during service. Conger says the organization gives veterans the opportunity to support one another.
“Our goal is to promote and continue to assist veterans in the community,” said Conger.
Meetings for FSU’s Veterans Association are held Thursdays from 11 a.m. to12 p.m. in Rankin Room 145. For more information, contact Jean Bennett at ext. 2810.