Veterans at CSU discuss experiences, resources

Eleonora Yurkevich

Veterans Day is a day to honor all those who have served and those who continue to serve, but at Colorado State University, resources are available to those individuals year-round.

CSU ranked 13th nationally on the annual Military Times’s “Best for Vets” list, the highest-ranked Colorado school. Programs on campus such as Adult Learner and Veteran Services, the New Start for Student Veterans Program and the Veteran Educational Benefits Office are just a few places that contribute to veterans’ success at CSU.

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CSU is participating in the National Roll Call event Wednesday. The event will occur in the Lory Student Center Sculpture Garden near the LSC Theater between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. A moment of silence will take place at 12 p.m.

For many returning veterans, finding their role in civilian life may be difficult. Jason Sydoriak, president of the Associated Students of Colorado State University, served in the Marine Corps between 2006 and 2012. 

“We had such an immense purpose in the military,” Sydoriak said. “Then, we enter the civilian world and we sort of have to find our own purpose. Even (if we do), it doesn’t seem as immense as it was in the military.”

While many organizations provide resources to veterans, others offer opportunities that allow veterans to apply military skills and knowledge to such things as disaster relief, said Sydoriak, who volunteered with flood relief efforts in Longmont and Lyons in Colorado.

Steven Baldwin is a veteran success coach at the Adult Learner and Veteran Services center. He said many veterans are continuing to serve their country and communities upon their return.

“Local national guardsmen and reservists around here go to fires, they go to floods, they help domestically and they fight wars,” Baldwin said. “When I came back from Iraq, I went … to Hurricane Katrina and Rita and helped families there. And that, in itself, was pretty traumatic.”

But not every story is the same. Baldwin is working on his doctorate degree at CSU, and his dissertation is focused on veterans in higher education and their barriers to success.

“The reason why I do this job at ALVS … is because I’ve been in similar situations as most of these students,” Baldwin said. “I see myself, maybe, as a role model. If I can do it, they can do it.”

Baldwin has served in the military for the past 19 years and spent his time fighting outside of security lines.

“I can’t speak to other people’s experiences — only mine,” Baldwin said. “If you’re in combat arms with military occupational skill, like the infantry … your experiences are far more different from a support role. You’re still in combat, and you might receive mortar fire … but you’re not fighting daily.” 

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His experience fighting beyond security lines came with its own set of challenges.

“When you’re in combat, there’s always this imminent danger,” Baldwin said. Living with this psychological fear for a year or more takes a toll, he said. 

Regardless of what role a veteran played or continues to play, building a sense of community is important. 

“CSU is one of the finest veteran-friendly campuses that I have experienced,” Baldwin said. “And that’s coming from (someone who has attended) two graduate schools,” both of which have had veteran programs, but “nothing like CSU.”

Collegian Reporter Eleonora Yurkevich can be reached at news@collegian.com.