Veterans Week events host OC Freedom Committee

Veterans  Week culminated with a fundraising barbecue in the quad Thursday, Nov. 13, where students and faculty gathered to share in presentations by members of Orange County Freedom, who bring with them a “living history” of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

Today,  Marine Corps veteran, Chris Merkle  spoke about his transition from the military back into the academic world.

For a long time, he lived off his past as a veteran, then became aware that he needed to move forward in life.

“I went back into the service because of 9/11, giving back to my country through cleaning up of the city of New York and aiding those in need in an effort to serve,” Merkle said. “It gave me back a sense of responsibility and unit which I needed.”

But 17-hour-days burned him out and he had to move on.

He then joined Saddleback College and with the assistance of Kolin Williams, veteran/generalist counselor, and Dean Terrence Nelson, he immersed himself in his studies.

Merkle’s advice to vets moving forward in life after military, his answers were straight forward.

“Everything you guys did was great.  You guys are vets? That’s great, now get over it. Now you have to move past that. Nobody will hire us. That’s why education is so important,” Merkle said. “Take advantage of all the benefits available to you now.  The most important person in your life is YOU.  So set the course and get yourself going.”

The Veteran Student Council is a board of student vets dedicated to helping other veterans reintegrate into campus life and succeed academically, providing assistance with higher education.

The events of this week aided in funding this cause.

“It was a major success,” said VSC Director, Kamran Sadaghiani.