One morning last week I made my way through campus (university) and on toward the local VA Medical Center where I now work. My route took me past rows of sorority and fraternity homes and upscale townhouses that serve as student housing, and I observed the cyclical return of college students for the Fall semester. Seeing all the carefree kids moving into newly-refurbished “dorms” inspired conflicting emotions for me.
I miss the promise of the new academic year that hangs in the air at the start of each Fall semester, and I am grateful for my experiences in academia both as a student (albeit a non-traditional one), and as a faculty member. I said goodbye to that life a couple years ago and returned, professionally, to an earlier place in my own history.
I now serve those for whom the promise-filled academic experience at age 18 was replaced with military service. I work among men and women who gave the best years of their lives for freedom so that others can walk across a campus in flip-flips & shorts and listen to ideas – choosing which ones to accept and live by, and which ones to discard. I serve and support people who spent their youth in defense of rights that are taken for granted by too many.
Military service was the only option available to many of us at the gateway of adulthood; and on late Summer days when the sons and daughters of privilege return to the ivory-towered halls,…we who traveled that alternate path take shelter in memories that the students decorating dorm rooms this weekend will never fully understand.
the author of this blog began her adult life enlisting in the US Navy and training as a US Navy Hospital Corpsman