Our campus has more than 600 veterans currently using GI Bill funds to pay for tuition. The UVU Review is in the process of featuring veteran’s stories in this column, and this issue’s focus is Brian Terry, an aviation major now in his third year, and 50 credits away from his goal of a degree that will
allow him to eventually fly jet aircraft. Terry is also a member of the Utah National Guard, A-Co. 2-211th GSAB that deployed to Iraq in 2008.
His unit was tasked with transport of visiting VIPs. He got to fly many senators and generals around, notably then-Senator Barack Obama. Terry was fortunate in many ways, and returned home unharmed by accident or enemy action.
On the topic of the war, he told us that Iraq “put into perspective all of my views [I had] before I left. It really made me take more notice of the political aspect of our country, why we’re over there in the first place. You don’t know what is going on there, unless you’ve actually been there. You sit in a classroom with people, they have no idea what you’ve been through, or where you’ve been.”
The time in Iraq was tough on some soldiers’ families that Terry knew and served with. He saw the stress that his fellow soldiers were experiencing and their spouses, how for at least four families the strain of distance, debt and single-handed child-rearing resulted in divorce upon the soldiers’ return home.
“Coming back home to it, I’ve been able to adjust fairly well, by staying busy. But when you first come back, it’s like landing in Mars,” Terry said. And for him, “busy” means 20 credits this semester, a true feat of focus and drive.
Like many other vets, one of the things that returns unbidden with you is a heightened sense of self-preservation. At first sleep was hard to come by, the bad dreams and the insomnia made for some miserable times. Now, looking back, he has some advice for returning troops: “My advice for veterans, take a deep breath, get your land legs back. Learn what’s going on with your family, reconnect with kids, or if you have one, your spouse. And start setting some goals.”
There’s help at the VA, and a very supportive local Veteran’s of Foreign Wars chapter, he says, in addition to the UVU Veteran’s Club. “The public has been great. When we got off a plane we were met with a round of applause, and that made us feel welcome, a great feeling,” Terry said.
Contact the club advisor Jim Hunter, at 801-836-7739 or by e-mail at [email protected]