More than one million American veterans now find themselves in college classrooms after completing their service and that number is growing.
Ferris welding engineering technology junior Joel Lloyd is one of those veterans who chose to become a student after serving the country. Lloyd decided to join the Marine Corps in 2011 mainly because of his family’s military history.
“A lot of my family was in the military. I have a cousin in the Marine Corps, two uncles in the army and four cousins in the army, so I wanted to join at least one branch of the service,” Lloyd said.
Originally from West Michigan, Lloyd’s military journey began with basic training in San Diego before he left for Missouri to train as a chemical dispense specialist. Lloyd’s next stop was overseas in Okinawa, Japan, where he spent two years on duty.
“I basically trained marines to protect themselves in a hazmat situation and chemical attacks,” Lloyd said. “One of the things that I loved the most about the Marine Corps was that it allowed me to travel. I was in Okinawa, I went to Cambodia, Korea and Australia on different operations. Each place we went they always gave us time to go out and enjoy the country for a little bit.”
After finishing his final year in the Corps back in California, Lloyd returned to Michigan for the 2014 fall semester at Ferris, where he had a relatively easy time adjusting back to civilian and student life.
In total, he served three and half years in the Marine Corps.
“Ferris has been really good to me. They have special scholarships for me and they’re really good with my G.I. Bill. My G.I. Bill pays for all my tuition and pays for my rent and bills I have,“ Lloyd said.
Lloyd has found himself a home and friends in the welding engineering technology program, including another Marine veteran who he can talk to about his service. Like many veterans, he also remains close to his friends he served and worked with, visiting them when possible.
Reflecting back on his service, Lloyd doesn’t quite rule out rejoining the military.
“I always see it as an option if I need to. I always feel like I could go back because I enjoyed it, but I’m looking more into finding my own career path in welding engineering,” Lloyd said.
Ferris human resources management junior Jason Springvloed is a student veteran who served in the Navy in Africa. Springvloed’s main job was administration but he was also trained with the Seabees (members of the U.S. Naval Construction Forces) in expeditionary combat, building facilities and infrastructure.
“So, I did build numerous things: roads; buildings; what we call ‘beehives,’ which are mobile homes we build for ourselves, the main doors open with a piece of string and a Gatorade bottle with cement in it or rocks; schools; we also did a little humanitarian work with them. It was basically all in Africa,” Springvloed explained.
“The main base was in Djibouti. It’s in East Africa, right there on the horn. We went to Somalia and built some roads and drilled wells. We drilled a lot of wells to give them clean drinking water. After that, we went to Ethiopia and did the same thing and we built roads there.”
Still in the Navy and now a student, Springvloed has a different perspective on Veterans Day and its meaning than before he joined the military. The U.S. celebrates the national holiday on Nov. 11 each year in honor of all military veterans who served in the Armed Forces.
“Veterans Day is different than Memorial Day. During Memorial Day, you remember; Veterans Day, you give thanks,” Springvloed said. “I’m definitely more thankful on Veterans Day, especially going away for so long, and going through all of the shit I had to go through. I definitely appreciate it more. Being a student now, it means more because others are worrying about paying tuition, where my tuition is covered.”