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  • Ashton Osborne

Olivet's veterans recall their service, memories

Today, the U.S honors the millions of men and women that have served in the U.S. military. These men and women that have served in the armed forces are from all over the country. According to Leslie Sullivan, registrar, we have four veterans within our faculty and 20 students that are veterans or receive veteran benefits because they are dependents.

John Homer, professor of economics, and Clair Stevens, adjunct professor of insurance and risk management, are among those staff members.

Homer served in the Air Force during 1961 to 1965. He worked as a fire control system mechanic while stationed in Okinawa, Japan. His job included working on radar systems, as well as maintaining firing equipment.

According to Homer, during the time that he was a service member, there was a lot of anti-Vietnam sentiment, so treatment of soldiers was not celebratory.

He missed being deployed to Vietnam by a matter of days. Homer said that being a part of the military has taught him how to have structure and discipline in his life, as well as giving him the opportunity for training in electronics.

In addition to those skills, being a part of the military has given him a "deep appreciation of service."

Stevens, now an adjunct instructor at Olivet after full-time service in the Insurance and Rick Management program, served in the Navy during 1971 to 1974 and the U.S Coast Guard from 1978 to 1994. He was a helicopter mechanic while in the Navy. Stevens said that he joined the service to get out of Marshall.

Besides the military giving him the opportunity to get an education, he has been to a number of different locations. While in the Navy, Stevens traveled to was Guam, Korea, Taiwan and Japan. He said that traveling as a part of the military had given him an "appreciation to be able to see different worlds and appreciate what we have here."

Both men said they had limited contact with family while stationed abroad. Stevens recalls a letter taking about three months to reach its destination because of how far away it had to be sent.

Homer said that he communicated with his family four or five times over a three year period. He had received a box of cookies from his mother at one point during his deployment.

The cookies were marked fragile, but by the time Homer had received them, they were mostly chocolate chips with bits of cookie on them.

He said the cookies were still some of the best food he had while gone, even with them being crumbled. Despite being away from home for years at a time, both men said that the hardest part of military life was adjusting back into civilian life once they left the service.

These experiences are an example of how the military has effected the millions veterans that are being recognized today.

As stated earlier, the process of reverting back to civilian life is difficult. Recognizing the sacrifices these men and women have made during the month of November is just one of the ways to show gratitude.

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