I have been using my GI Bill for a while now and going to a few different schools since I was released from the military in 2014. I have gained a couple of certificates but never an actual degree. In the summer of 2022, I decided to go to Bristol Community College for an associate degree in business administration. I had never heard of the Student Veterans of America before and never knew anything like that even existed. After getting emails from the director of the veterans center on campus I finally decided to see what it was all about. After a couple of months, I was given the opportunity to attend the 2023 national convention for the Student Veterans of America.
I didn’t quite know what to expect and was kind of nervous, to be honest. After getting to the resort and seeing that almost everyone was in the same boat as me, I was a little relieved. When I signed up for my breakout sessions, I got a little more excited. I was ready to learn what it meant to be a student veteran and how to make a difference within my veteran community. Throughout my sessions, I learned about how to be a successful leader for myself and in my community, advocating for myself and my chapter, ways to help my chapter grow, and so much more. It was an experience that will stay with me for a long time. The camaraderie and engagement between everyone was more than I could ever have imagined.
Then there were all of the keynote speakers. One in particular that stood out above the rest was from an Army Ranger, Master Sgt. Cedric King. He had lost both of his legs on a deployment to Afghanistan and was hospitalized for some time while he healed and was able to learn how to walk again with the help of prosthetics. This man showed more bravery and courage than I have ever experienced or seen. He was motivated and so excited to be alive that it made me realize that my problems were nothing I couldn’t get through with a little hard work. All in all, I would like to thank The American Legion and everyone else who made this unforgettable experience a possibility for me. It is something I can bring back to my community and share with everyone and hopefully make a difference in someone's life like it did mine.