(Student Essay Fall 2015)
This service project was something, in the beginning, that I thought would be one of those hassle projects that I would have to push myself to finish. As soon as I began visiting Veteran’s village, I immediately noticed how the veteran’s made everyone feel welcome and not out of place. The visits to Veteran’s Village soon began to feel more like an opportunity rather than a burden that I had to finish for a grade. It seemed like every time that I visited Veteran’s Village I would have an awesome experience with someone I didn’t the time before.
These experiences opened my eyes to the gifts of giving. Prior to this, I had little sympathy for those less fortunate. My reasoning to this would always be, “They could get a job if they wanted one.”. The interactions between the veterans and I, made me realize that everyone has their own problems that not many see. One example of this was on the first visit to Veteran’s Village. That night it was breakfast for dinner and was quite busy with volunteers and veterans engulfing the small kitchen/living area that the food was served at. There was this guy that I never got the name of but I think it was G*. He would say, “I want to go down south and be a pilot in Columbia.”. Everyone thought this was hilarious and we all would laugh at his antics and jokes, making the mood more enjoyable. After a few times of him explaining his master plan, you, Dr. Soldani, popped in saying “You need to be worried about your kids in Ohio.”. This shocked me. I thought how did he end up in Tallahassee, while his kids resided in Ohio.
A few weeks later, someone in the class asked you about him because after that night I had not seen him since. You explained that through his job at Home Depot, he got transferred back to Ohio to be back with his children. During this conversation, I also found out that he had PTSD and that was why he acted the way he did.
On the outside G* looked like the regular who was going through rough times. In reality, he was a veteran who suffered from the disease that destroys many individuals returning from wars, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This experience is one that I will keep with for the rest of my life.
After this I tried to help out those in need anytime that I could. One night that my girlfriend and I went on a date, I paid for an elderly couples’ meal who looked like they could use some help. Another instance was when I was on the way home from one of my baseball games. It was a late one, left the field at 10 pm, and I stopped at Jersey Mike’s to get a sub on the way home. Outside of the establishment was an obvious homeless man, going through the trash. As I ordered my sub I also ordered one for this man. The look on his face when I handed that sandwich to him was worth more than $1,000 in my book. He exploded with gratitude and gratefulness, saying thank you at least 20 times before I made it back to my truck.
The experiences that I’ve had since participating and going to Veteran’s Village, are ones that will remain with me until the end of my days.
I would truly like to thank you Dr. Soldani for everything that you have taught me, inside and outside the classroom. Whether it be the joyful veteran that no one knows struggles everyday with illness or the random homeless person scrounging for their next meal, everyone has a story. This semester has been one to truly change my outlook on life and can be explained though Mrs. DeGeneres’ quote.“We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.” - Ellen DeGeneres. I now know that everyone has their demons, whether they choose to show them or not and I would like to help whenever possible. It makes feel great that my donation for, Tom, a veteran at VV is going to some who truly will be grateful.