Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Huber spoke in the Massey Boardroom to Belmont students about the tough transition from being a soldier to being a student. The event was co-sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Studies and Global Education program and Belmont’s 2016 PRSSA Belmont Bateman Team.
Huber is a Franklin, Tennessee resident who was originally drafted into the US military in 1971 and retired in 2013. Fourteen of those years were spent as a general officer, and two of them were spent as a commander in Afghanistan.
Huber now helps veterans receive Veterans Affairs benefits for education, so he’s no stranger to the difficulties facing soldiers looking to acclimate to academic life. He prefaced his talk with the fact he had been asked to address misconceptions the general public may have about student veterans and, specifically, how we perceive them.
He stressed how our perceptions of these student veterans come more from the news and movies than they do from actual experiences. He stressed the importance of building relationships with these students and assisting veterans looking for an education post-service.
According to Huber, the difficulties student veterans face rise from the culture shock of leaving the organized, productive, highly-ethical environment of the military for the more disorganized and casual lifestyle of the average American.
The main adjustment he touched on, however, was how most veterans just miss the community of understanding coming from being around other people in the military because of the shared experience of service. This was part of his argument for why it’s important college campuses have veterans centers to help veterans find employment, receive mental health advising and learn the logistics of entering into an academic institution.
He also addressed some criticisms academic students and teachers may have toward people who served in the military. He addressed the misconception of soldiers not knowing how to think for themselves. He argued, if anything, the military teaches one how to think in dangerous or stressful situations where quick judgments are needed.
He closed his talk by assuring us, more than anything, veterans just want to continue to serve their country and communities after their time in the military is up.
“I am not a hero, and I am not broken,” Huber said. “And now I want to do something useful.”
The best thing we as a college community can do to help these veterans to feel comfortable is to do what Huber suggests and provide a loving, supportive group of people ready to welcome them back.
This article was written by Tommy Kessler.