Comrades off the battlefield
“Having a support network is important for anyone, especially veterans who might need help making the transition to college.”
Class of 2016
Major: Public Health
Transitioning from Combat Lines to College Life
Veterans must make many adjustments when they separate from the military and transition back to civilian life. Missing the bonds with fellow soldiers is part of it. Mark Speckhard, a Marine veteran from Valparaiso, Indiana, found an unexpected form of camaraderie after his military service. He separated from the Marine Corps and then enrolled at the University of Evansville. He was a 22-year-old freshman. “It was intimidating,” he said. “I had been out of the classroom for four years, hadn’t read a book or written a paper in so long. But, the professors were understanding and helpful, and classes were small, which made the transition easier.” Mark described the most difficult part of his transition to college as making choices that would affect his future and career. The easiest part was adapting to college culture and making friends.
Finding a New Brotherhood
Typical of most nontraditional-aged students on a college campus like UE, Mark was focused on his studies. His routine included going to classes and back to his apartment to study. But, as time went on and he got comfortable with school, he found himself wanting more. “All I did was go to class and study,” he explained. “I got bored, so I decided I needed to meet people.” That’s when Mark met members from one of UE’s fraternities, which he eventually joined. “I like the brotherhood,” said Mark. “I don’t think anything can compare to bonds you make through deployments and the military, but it’s similar. It’s a group of guys being there to support one another and achieve a common goal.”
Mark was elected president of his fraternity for two terms and received special recognitions from their national headquarters. During tenure as president, his fraternity won the esteemed University of Evansville Howard S. Rosenblatt Dean of Students Leadership Award for being the organization of the year. Fraternity life was a good choice for Mark. “The brotherhood and camaraderie is very similar to that of the military,” said Mark. “Having a support network is important for anyone, especially veterans who might need help making the transition to college.” Mark encourages veterans to consider joining a fraternity and suggests that fraternities actively recruit veterans. “Fraternities and veterans benefit from being associated with one another.” There have been many UE student veterans who have joined fraternities and enjoy the experience Mark describes.
After graduation, Mark and his long-time girlfriend, Jill, were married. He attended the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and is now a Patrol Officer 1st Class in Portage, Indiana. “I guess it’s not surprising that I chose a career in the police force,” said Mark. “I’m drawn to serving others and enjoy being part of a brotherhood, like the Marines and my fraternity at UE.” The camaraderie will continue for Mark, and for those who cross paths with this outstanding veteran, they will benefit as well.