Veterans Day can be more stressful for Veterans than what meets the eye.
Many Veterans have no home to go to. Some of their meals come mainly from a soup kitchen, even on holidays. One of the problems for veterans is the difficulty of reintegrating into society.
“You lose a part of yourself when you go over there (a combat zone),” said Robert Mountainspring- Wood, a veteran and ASUCC’s public relations officer.
Although, Mountainspring-Wood served in the Army, he clarifies that he never deployed. However, he understands those who did. “Even if you don’t deploy, the training process itself is rigorous to say the least, and I’ve known quite a few soldiers who never deployed but who’ve gone through basic training who come out with some level of post-traumatic stress.”
Mountainspring- Wood was also the Veteran Club representative with the student government (ASUCC) most of last academic year.
Mountainspring- Wood comes from a family with military experience. His grandfather served in Korea as well as was a prisoner of war awarded with a purple heart. His other grandfather served in World War II as a Staff Sargent in Europe.
Mountainspring-Wood remembers the patch that his grandfather has: “It’s a black background with a flaming sword and a rainbow. The black represents the despair going on in Europe and obviously the flaming sword of the coalition. The rainbow is the hope above and above that is the blue sky.”
Mountainspring-Wood thinks this country has a bad reputation of not handling the veterans’ needs. “You have the ones who do deploy, and I cannot speak for them because I never deployed, but from what I’ve seen, it is nothing short of heartbreaking,” said Mountainspring-Wood.
Umpqua Community College offers the Veterans Club to assist. The Veterans Club is not only for veterans; non-veterans can join as well. The Veterans Club is currently run by Gerry Ryan, a former Marine and solider, with assistance of Ann Abel, UCC’s financial aid specialist veterans/work study coordinator.
“You want to make sure that the people who fight in wars get the treatment that they deserve,” said Mountainspring-Wood. He as well as Abel believes in giving the right treatment to the Veteran community.
The Veterans Club members talk about a lot of issues that affect veterans and resources that can help make their college experience easier. They can get help filling out their VA paper work, scheduling a counseling appointment or get some counseling on the spot.
The Veterans Club can be found in The Student Veteran Center at the Educational Skills Building. They meet Wednesdays at noon.
“I like to describe the Veteran Resource Center as a USO room on a college campus. It has somewhat of a living room feel. It is a designated safe space for veterans,” said Mountainspring-Wood
Umpqua Community College is not the only place in Douglas County that gives back to its veteran community. The VFW or Veterans of Foreign Wars also has a program where veterans can come in and get a meat box. The meat is donated by different organizations or a local farmer. The American Legion offers food boxes as well as a program around the holidays that donates gifts that veterans can then give to their family.
“I think it’s wonderful that we honor veterans for all they have done for us and the sacrifices they and their families have made for our freedom,” Abel said. She also tries to assist a military family anytime she can.
Mountainspring-Wood says that for Veteran’s Day he explains the history to his two kids of the major wars that our country has fought and explains the consequences of some of those wars especially for those who fought in them. He also sometimes helps in unique ways.
“Regardless of service status, regardless of race or ethnicity, regardless of creed or sex or gender identity or anything else. This college first and foremost has worked very, very hard to foster an environment of love, of compassion and of service to one another. If you see someone struggle veteran, non-veteran, doesn’t matter– help them. You never know when that person might be you, and plus it’s the right thing to do,” said Mountainspring- Wood.