Monday, March 30, 2009

Chico State SVO in the News...


Posted: 03/30/2009 12:00:00 AM PDT

CHICO -- Ian McGilvray is a 32-year-old business major at Chico State University who spent nine years in the Marines.

Soldiers who enter the college community are often "older and have seen the world," he said.

"We're not here to party. We're not wondering 'what's going on tonight'," he said during a forum Wednesday on campus attended by about 60 people.

The average college student is 23.8 years old, he explained.

"By the time I was 24 I had been in the military six years."

The forum was part of Chico State's Conversations on Diversity.

Students might not automatically think of veterans as part of a "diverse group," explained Tray Robinson, Chico State diversity coordinator.

But they share experiences that are worlds apart from average students.

McGilvray described the support for former military at Chico State as "outstanding."

But there are issues.

He said sometimes former military students are stereotyped, and often hide the fact that they are veterans.

Last semester, McGilvray said he had a professor who told the class the "military trains us to kill women and children and to become a sociopath," McGilvray said.

Those types of things anger him, especially when he has been there and knows better.

Student John Hart joined the Army National Guard as a family tradition. While he took on military service with a sense of pride, it was also a job.

"A lot of students don't realize a lot of people in the military actually work in an office," Hart said.

Part of his time was spent in Kosovo, where Hart's job was to gather intelligence, as well as be a friendly face.

"My mission was with kids in classrooms, to get kids to work together on art," he explained.

"When you meet a vet, don't assume they were on the front line," he said.

Wes Shockley is an Army veteran who spent two years in Iraq as a mental health specialist, helping soldiers deal with stress.

He said he had a hard time being away from his wife and children.

When he returned, he was irritable and found he was arguing more. He also didn't like crowds.

"In combat you get fired at daily. People are in tents and rockets will land in your tent. Their front line is everywhere. I was affected more than I thought."

He said he sees his time at college as his second chance and plans to get a degree in social work and work in veteran affairs.

David Martinez, 29, grew up in Oakland and joined the military with plans to attend college.

Since he was 10 years old he wanted to become a game warden, and he knew a college education would be needed.

He served in a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Kosovo as well.

When he was sent to Fallujah, Iraq, he was 23 and a sergeant.

"When you get back, you try to get back into normal life," he explained.

But he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.

"Sometimes I don't sleep at all," he said, and he also has trouble with large crowds.

In college, his goal is still to become a game warden, and he knows that he will have to "prove to Fish and Game I'm a qualified candidate."

Yessica Lupica served as an Arabic interrogator/translator.

Her family has a tradition of military service and she joined during peace time when she was 17. The plane attacks of 9/11 took place while she was in basic training.

By the time she was 19, she was "in charge of other people's lives."

During her military service, Lupica lost many friends, she said, including a person she was dating.

The losses continue, she said. "Until everybody is home, it's not over."

One of the issues with transitioning to college has been shifting from serious work to the more casual environment.

"Every morning what I did mattered," she said, including decisions that "lives were riding on."

When transitioning to college, it was difficult to feel like things mattered.

"I had a Tuesday morning group project and three people were hung over," she said.

She thinks about people who are still fighting a war, and "I'm sitting in biology class."

Lupica also still gets jumpy. On New Year's Eve "someone threw firecrackers and I jumped out of my skin," she said.

She also is irked by professors who make comments about the war. She was there, and has more firsthand knowledge than her professors, she said.

Robinson asked the veterans what students could do to be more supportive.

Lupica suggested not asking veterans if they have killed someone.

"That's an intensely personal question," she said.

McGilvray said he would like to see more teacher awareness. Veterans in class likely won't say when they are offended by their teachers' comments, he said.

Larry Langwell is coordinator of Veterans Affairs at Chico State.

He said the military discharges 750 veterans to California every month and the state provides about 10 percent of the military population.

In August, new rules are rolling out for the G.I. Bill, including added payments for student fees and books.

In his experience, Langwell said, veterans often don't know they're having problems when they return. It's still up to the veteran to seek out help, he said.

For more information, call Langwell at 898-5911. A Web site is at:


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