Student Stories

graphic The Journey Home Project

Veteran Voices

Excerpt from Final Journal Entry (12/05/2018) - Nicholas Adams

On February 11, 2014 Staff Sergeant Mitchell Baker committed suicide, and seven days later our unit conducted his funeral. . . As a Chaplain Assistant in the Army, I spent far too much time conducting memorial ceremonies. . . Sergeant Baker had never come to see my chaplain or me, and there wasn't a single person in our unit who was expecting his suicide. He exhibited no signs. The most common thing people said the day after his death was, "He seemed fine yesterday." . . . [Soldiers] build themselves up to believe that seeking help is a form of weakness and a character flaw. Soldiers are trained to make the physical sacrifice and come to terms with it. None of them are trained to come to terms with the mental sacrifice. . . There is nothing weak about needing help. Service members need to recognize that. We need to share in our hurt and heal together. Soldiers are taught that you are only as strong as your weakest member. Why does that saying not extend to emotional hurt?

Excerpt from Final Journal Entry (12/05/2018) - Johnathan Manuel

For my great grandfather the Second World War came in the form of seeing his town fall and being forcefully conscripted as a mechanic in the German Wehrmacht and seeing the aftermath of a very brutal war crime, the Massacre of Sant'Anna di Stazzema. For my grandfather the war came in the form of the German Army burning and destroying this village while he was a child, and the scenes of war around him... This class has helped me gain a new understanding for their experiences.

Excerpt from Final Journal Entry (12/05/2018) - Joshua Kalbach

I've always been a believer that you don't show emotions, you suck it up and take it like a man. The way that ends up working [for a combat veteran] is like shaking a Champaign bottle, you can do it for a while but eventually it's going to blow. With veterans sometimes it's implicit... The thing I learned is most times the best way to get through your wound is to talk to someone else that has the same wound.

Excerpt from Personal Journal Entry (11/21/2016) - Ericka Shork

One reading that stuck out was "The Controller," by Christy Clothier. It was about an experience she had with sexual assault. This was a tough subject to read. To me it was very accurate... It is a culture in the military not talked about.

From the beginning when you join you go into a silent culture where pain is weakness. If you say you can't do something or it hurts, you're wrong.

You are a minority as a woman [in the Marine Corps]. I had people know my name before I met them, like I was a celebrity. It was scary and isolating.