Pete’s Story

Pete had just started classes at the local community college. He was excited to be enrolled and working toward a new career after spending six years of his young adult life as a weapons specialist in the armed forces. He made sure to arrive early to every class, feeling anxious and ensuring he got a seat in the back of the room where he could keep an eye on everything.

It bothered Pete that most of his classmates talked too much in class, challenged the professor, and acted as if they were kids in high school. Pete realized that he was sometimes unable to focus, as he was constantly scanning the room and alert to noises in the hallway. He struggled on his first exam and felt his bubble of hope burst.

One day in class, one of his classmates made a flip comment. Everything that was bubbling under the surface came to a head. Pete felt angry that anyone would take the privilege of higher education for granted.  He made a comment back to the classmate and things escalated to the point where Pete got angry and stormed out of the classroom to avoid getting into a fight. He decided that college – with all the immaturity and lack of respect – was not for him. He decided to drop out and went to his advisor to tell her so.

It was at that point that the advisor Asked the Question: “Have you ever served in the military?” Although he had included this information on his initial application, and was using the GI bill, the information was never provided to his advisor or instructor. Once she knew about Pete’s background, the advisor was able to link Pete to the Student Veteran group and support him in finding ways that he can feel more comfortable in the classroom. He decided to stay in school after all. If his advisor had not identified Pete’s military background, he may have dropped out and passed by the opportunity to further his education.

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