EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — On this week’s Veterans’ Voice transitioning from military to civilian life can be rough, but there are veterans who’ve made it their life’s work to help with the transition.
For Mark Stillion, it was a big transition from being part of a Marine Corps armored regiment on the other side of the world to a college student.
He battled PTSD after his fourth and final deployment to Afghanistan. But he got help, and now in his senior year at Kent State, he’s eyeing a master’s program for counseling. He says he’s determined to help others
“I’m a big advocate for veterans’ mental health, to bring the suicide rate down and help with post-traumatic stress. That’s what I have a passion for and that’s what I want to do,” says Stillion.
Stillion has found his calling, but for many veterans, post-military life isn’t as easy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says unemployment among post-9/11 veterans is slightly higher, but mostly it’s attributed to the fact that many are under 30 and are making big adjustments in life.
Also, many veterans either underuse or don’t use the benefits that they’re entitled to under the GI bill, which includes full payment of skills training or college tuition.
“When you come to college, you definitely increase your earning potential. The data’s out there. The numbers are higher for those folks who get an associate, even at one of our regional campuses,” says Joshua Rider from the Kent State Veterans Services.
Like many colleges, Kent State has a special office to help veterans get started and help them take advantage of the benefits they’ve earned.
Starting college in his late 20’s, Stillion says it wasn’t easy, but at 34, he’s learning to live up to the Marines’ slogan: Marines always move forward.
“I also offer a lot of insight to the classes that other students may not have the experience I have and have gone through,” he said.