Military vets discuss experience

U.S. Military Veterans discuss thier experiences at a panel. (from left) Eric Honomichl, Dan Maciejewski, Chris Tibai, David Pacheco, Jusin Van Volkenburg
Photo by Shelby Spencer

U.S. veterans shed light on civilian questions during a panel discussion.

            Five veterans on campus met with ten students and faculty members to discuss what military life is like and to give advice to anyone looking to join the military.

            The idea for the panel came from the Student Veteran Association that meets weekly on campus.

            They wanted to have a program for students who were considering joining the military, to tell them about the process and experience other than what people see on TV.

            All of the panel members had their own reason for joining, but all agreed that anyone going into the military needs to think long and hard about it.

David Pacheco joined the Army as a gateway to new experiences.

            “I wanted to get out of the area, see different parts of the country or different parts of the world. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself,” he said.

            Joining the military is a big commitment and not something to take lightly.

Dan Maciejewski of the Army reserves said to make sure you have the right motives.

“If your soul motivation for joining is the money you get for school, fill out the FAFSA and pick a new profession,” he said.

Eric Honomichl veteran of the Marines said that joining the military takes a lot of soul searching. He said that if someone is considering the service they should know why they want to join, because once you do join the military it is your top priority.

“Your spouse, significant other, and kid come second, the service comes first,” he said.

            Army vet Justin Van Volkenburg agreed saying that the military is not just a nine to five job, but a lifestyle.

Once someone decides that they want to join advice was given on how to have a discussion with a recruiter.

Maciejewski said to bring a list of questions to the recruiter, on that list of questions should be some that the person already knows the answer to. If the recruiter answers the questions correctly then they are trustworthy.

He also said to make sure that a person gets their job and any details of their service career in a contract to make sure that what they are promised is what they are actually given.

Choosing what job to do in the military can be crucial to the rest of someone’s life.

Maciejewski said that someone enlisting should make sure that what they do in the service can translate into a civilian job when they get out.

When it comes to getting accepted into the military, the rules have changed over the years. It is now less of how many people the military needs and instead based more on the qualifications of those recruited said Chris Tibai veteran of the Navy and Marines.

Maciejewski talked about the advantages and disadvantages of being an Army Reserve while going to school.

Being a reserve a person is told there will be two weeks of training during the summer and one weekend per month, which should be easy to maintain, however those times aren’t always set in stone.

For example Maciejewski’s two weeks of “summer” training is actually happening in February which will affect his class schedule and his weekend trainings are two and a half hours away, so he often has to leave class early for those.

“Is it fair? Absolutely not,” he said.

“But it’s life.”

The veterans also shared what has been hard since returning to civilian life.

Honomichl said that he doesn’t feel as close to his blood relatives as he did to his fellow marines.

“I knew that they would risk life and limb to bring me home,” he said

Pacheco said that it was hard to break out of the strict routine. He was used to always being busy and when he had free time he didn’t know what to do with it.

Van Volkenburg said that he has a hiding sense of paranoia, and he has a hard time not overanalyzing any situation he encounters in civilian life.

“I want to relax and let it go, but it’s hard to let go of the hard front,” he said.

Maciejewski explained how being in the reserves can be harder than being active duty because he has to constantly flip the switch on and off from military to civilian life.

He also explained his different perspective on life since joining the military.

“All of the problems going on in the world and people are complaining that their soy latte is cold,” he said.

There was a sense of brotherhood between all of the panel members even though they did not serve together they all mentioned that they still would have each other’s backs.

“It doesn’t matter if we hated the cold, the wet, the mud, or the lack of sleep, we’ve embraced the suck,” Van Volkenburg said.

Maciejewski said that in his military experience he has made the best friends that he will ever have.

“We are all a part of the big dysfunctional family of the U.S. military,” Honomichl said.