Vets adjust to college life
Nov 20 2012
By Julie De Rurange
Byline Staff Writer
Transitioning from military to college life can be a big change, but it can be done.
Two years ago, David Grosenbach was doing mechanical work on vehicles for convoys in Afghanistan. Now, he’s one of 1,600 veterans enrolled at Rogue Community College.
As an Infantryman for the Army National Guard, Grosenbach helped prep the vehicles for long hours on the road. On some trips, he would accompany them.
“The convoys would last anywhere between 8-16 hours, so when you’re on the road that long you want to make sure that everything is working because when it’s not working, that is when you’re on your own,” Grosenbach said.
Grosenbach has been serving in the National Guard for 12 years. Previous deployments include Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is looking to go back to Afghanistan in the next couple of years.
Teri Smith, an RCC veteran’s advisor, said veterans like Grosenbach have an additional layer of life that needs to be addressed as they integrate back into student life.
“To sit and read a textbook or focus on lectures can be difficult when you have been trained to also be aware and respond to any noise or distraction,” Smith said. “As civilians we are wired to live in a ‘110’ world, but when someone joins the military we work really hard to rewire them to survive the ‘220’ world of combat. Unfortunately then they come back home to the same ‘110’ world and they aren’t ever rewired.”
As a current RCC student, Grosenbach said it’s a little weird being in school again.
“The weird part is being around 18-19 year old people,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, I’m much older. It’s really hard to relate to them.”
Though military experiences are much different than the daily responsibilities of civilian life, RCC veterans, like former Marine, Ben Carleton, try not to be judgmental.
“I don’t look down at the people in my classes or think I am better than them,” he said. “I have my own life experiences and they have theirs.”
Carleton has toured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We did contact patrols, where you draw the enemy out to shoot at you and another squad flanks the enemy and kills them, and recon patrols, trying to find out where the enemy is, and of course, smiling and waving to the locals—trying to win hearts and minds,” Carleton said.
Now he wants a career in Law Enforcement. He has a 3.96 GPA and will be receiving his Associate in Applied Sciences in criminal justice this spring. He then plans to go on to get a bachelor’s degree from Southern Oregon University in criminology.
Grosenbach is planning to finish his Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer and go to SOU, either for a nursing or teaching degree.
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