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The Gatepost Editorial: Veterans need and deserve support

By The Gatepost Editorial Board

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 1918, World War I officially ended.

Today, we celebrate and honor not only those who fought in WWI, but all of the people who have served in the U.S. military fighting for our freedom.

Those sacrifices have come from some of our peers here at FSU who are veterans themselves, actively serving in the reserves, or are otherwise military connected.

Today, we are celebrating them.

However, as a community, we need to ensure we are honoring and supporting these students every day.

This support can come in various forms, such as the flexibility and understanding professors can extend to these students when they are performing military duties.

Some students may need to miss classes due to this service or may not be able to complete an assignment on time because they are in a place with no access to the internet.

In general, the move from active duty to college life can be difficult for these students and professors understanding that challenge is crucial to making the transition successful.

We also need to recognize the ways their military experience affects their lives as students.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), military-connected students may struggle with the independence that comes with being in college.

These students have spent much of their time following orders and respecting rank, and therefore have internalized these behaviors, making it difficult for them to think and act independently.

Although, it is important not to stereotype military-connected students because they have their own experiences and they are not all the same.

According to the Coordinator of Veteran and Military Services, Christine Denaro, a student brought to her attention a comment made by a professor that was along the lines of, “I can't believe how undisciplined the student veterans are here.”

Denaro went on to explain there are a number of reasons why the students that professor has in mind may be struggling in class, which could include PTSD, a traumatic brain injury, or another unseen cause.

It could also simply be the adjustments the students need to make to college life.

As a community, we need to be educating ourselves about the experiences of our military-connected students and not make assumptions concerning how we think they should be.

We can also be more mindful of the comments made and the questions asked in the classroom during discussions regarding the military.

It is vital we acknowledge the community these students may have lost and the difficulty they have in making new connections.

Many military-connected students may be non-traditional students. Only 15% are traditionally aged college students, according to the VA.

These students may also already have families and responsibilities outside of FSU, which can contribute to a sense of loneliness and isolation here on campus.

The Veteran and Military Services Center, located in Dwight Hall, is a great place for these students to find community with those who understand what they have gone through or are currently experiencing.

There, military-connected students can have a quiet place to study and do homework, watch TV, grab a cup of coffee, and hang out with friends, but it is also a place to get information and resources that are specifically aimed at helping them.

Denaro advises military-connected students not to be afraid to ask for help.

“They can come to me with no judgment - anything that they need, and I'll get them the help that they need,” she said. “Asking for help is a sign of strength, so don't be afraid to ask.”

Military-connected students are essential and invaluable members of the community and deserve to feel that way.

We need to support, honor, and celebrate them.

Veterans and military-connected students: We see you. We appreciate you. And we thank you for your service.

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