I am honored to be working in the Veterans Service Center at the Main campus of Glendale Community College. I am a School Certifying Official and Student Services Specialist, which basically means that I have been trained to assist our Veteran Students getting enrolled in classes while utilizing VA Benefits. We serve as a liaison between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the college. I, too, am a Veteran and the one thing I remember most about leaving the military and getting back into civilian life is the transition time being painful. It’s a private battle no one can relate to, unless you have served.
One day you are standing in formation waiting for your name to be announced to be given the Orders for your next duty station or Orders to return home. You spend months marking off the days until you are deployed and honorably discharged. You daydream about the feeling of not having to wake up at 0430 hours or running PT with a cadence ringing in your ears. All of a sudden the day comes when you pack up your belongings in a duffle bag, slap the hands of your fellow comrades in the form of high fives, who are staying behind to finish out the assignment, execute an about face and board the plane to home or the next best place to home, only to find you feel more lost with no direction the minute you land.
The majority of students we come into contact with on a daily basis can concur these feelings. Every step I’m taking, Every move I make feels Lost with no direction, My faith is shaking…. Miley Cyrus sings it best in her song, The Climb.
The men and women who serve our Country are trained to do battle and many find themselves continuing to wage a war inside themselves as they enter the academic world, a world much different than the military world. They are facing struggles and they are taking chances. They get knocked down, but I encourage each and every one of them to hold their heads high and keep on trying, keep on fighting.
I have even used the analogy of being a runner. All of us former military folks have run many miles. The first mile was and still remains the worst for me. The same is also true about hiking. The first few miles seem to be the most awkward and my breath often seems more labored. When I meet with our students, I reassure them that, “It is okay to not be okay.” It is okay to doubt. I tell them, “The first few weeks your footing is going to feel awkward and you are going to be overwhelmed. Just like the first mile of a good run – the first few weeks of a new semester can be the worst until you find your groove. Enjoy the journey.”
This bit of advice often brings a smile and a reply, “Thank you, I needed to hear this.” It’s about the journey that gets us to where we are going. And in this song by Miley Cyrus, it’s about the Climb. She says it best, “Ain’t about how fast I get there, Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, ‘It’s the Climb.’”
We all can relate to the mountains in our own lives. None of us are exempt to mountains. We just have to keep on moving, keep on climbing, and keep the faith. Enjoy your Climb, Everyone. Let’s help each other and our students to enjoy The Climb!