Helping the people who protect our country

Nicole Zukowski, Life, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Imagine waking up in the morning having no idea where you are because you are still shaking from the terrifying dream that manifests from your real-life experiences. Your forehead is dripping with sweat, your palms are calmy, and you are reliving about 50 different emotions from the past two years from a time when you served protecting the United States at war.

At Wilkes, the Veteran Council tries to help the student veterans and community veterans as well as currently employed soldiers.

“Our club is an advocacy group for promotion of student veteran and veteran issues and we tend to focus on community service,” Jesse Goble, president of the Wilkes Veterans Council said.

This club is one of the most active groups involved in several community service projects at Wilkes.

Goble explains an upcoming event the club has planned, “the Veteran’s Day Ceremony on Nov 11th with our annual flag drive is coming up. All the proceeds will be donating to Kim Wood’s annual Christmas Care packages to the troops.”

Goble then goes on to say more about why they chose to help this foundation.

“Her project reaches more troops than we could do on our own and we’re very proud to assist in making sure our troops realize that their sacrifices aren’t forgotten by us.”

The Veteran Council has already began their mission to help.

“This semester we’ve assisted Emily McGaha, the school’s Americorp VISTA rep, with the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance in which we helped collect donations of clothing and money to assist homeless veterans from the Wyoming Valley,” Goble said.

Veteran Council not only extends their hands to veterans but also wants to make sure the campus is safe for everyone.

“We also held our 5th Safety and Self Defense seminar for the students, faculty and staff of Wilkes University,” Goble said.

Protecting oneself  is all about knowing the basics of self defense.

“Safety and Self Defense Seminar that we put on every Fall semester, mostly for the freshman coming in.  This event teaches students how to be safe in the area, how to use pepper spray, how to throw a proper punch, and things that would protect you,” Matthew Kolodgie, Vice President of the Veteran Council said.

The club is developed around helping and assisting veterans and soldiers, these goals strike the heart hot with most members.

“My favorite part about this club is the support we are giving our deserving veterans,” Kellie Palko, an active member said. “Our soldiers come home from deployment and are expected to get right back into normal life which is not easy. Our club tries to help them out.”

The issues of and from war hits all too close to home for Palko.

She says, “My own sister has been deployed to Iraq twice and I’ve seen the effects of war. It’s very taxing. It makes me happy to know I may be helping a struggling vet out there.”

Kolodgie could also attest to the adjustment of life with a change of pace that blending back into civilian life could have on someone.

“The Veteran Club that helps me be more comfortable as a student on campus.  The veterans here are generally at least 4 years older than the traditional student right out of high school.  They have more life experience and unique at that,” Kolodgie said. “It helps us come together and discuss issues we may have as students that a traditional student may not face.”

Satisfaction from knowing that you are making a difference is what this club strives for.

“I’m sure other students at Wilkes would love the benefits of this club. Many of them probably have a vet in their own family and can have the same satisfaction as I do from participating in this club,” Palko said.

There are many different ways the club befits people.

“My favorite part of being in the group is knowing that we can advocate for veterans on campus,” Kologide said. “For example, on Club Day, we had a student approach us and tell us how she is a veteran but she had no clue about the benefits she was entitled to.  She was going to school by using loans, so we connected her with our Veterans educator and she is now switched over to the GI Bill, which is free education for her.”

It is the small things like that, that could drastically change lives. Which is precisely the reason the Veteran Council operates.

Although much of the club is made up of veterans it is not a requirement of joining.

“Anyone can be a member of the VC and we encourage non – veterans to join.  Currently, we have three students who are not veterans who are actively involved,” Said Kolodgie. “Our group couldn’t function without the help of these non – veterans and we appreciate everything they do for us.”

Goble comments on what benefits students receive from joining.

“I like the camaraderie of the club as well as performing community service through the club,” Goble said. “Students who join our club can expect to have the opportunity to take part in multiple community service projects. In addition to that, they get access to members that have a wide variety of life experience and information who are all willing to help each other.”

Palko says “The people in this club are amazing and dedicated to helping our fellow vets. We are always looking for people to join and help out with events if anyone’s interested.”

If the fall does not seem like a good time to join the Veteran Council, they also help with the car show in the spring, whose proceeds are donated to the wounded warrior project.

Any questions or concerns contact Jesse Goble at [email protected]