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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

A Student Alliance for Veterans and Soldiers; Two Carleton students form a nonpartisan organization to provide support for veterans

<ing spring term of last year my friend Jonelle Carrera and I attended a showing of the documentary “When I Came Home” as a part of the Iraq Film Series sponsored by the Carleton Progressive. The film focused on a young Iraq war veteran living out of his car as he attempted to overcome PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and readjust to civilian life. Even after repeatedly seeking aide from the VA and other veterans’ organizations, he was only able to find real help from a private donor after telling his story on national television.

Army Sergeant Wes Davis was also invited to this screening to share photos and experiences with us from his two deployments to the Middle East. After the film had been shown and it came time for him to talk, he was so upset he could barely speak. The movie had brought forth all his frustrations regarding the state of our military and our government’s treatment of veterans. He was angry at what soldiers are being put through in Iraq and even angrier at the trials they face upon returning home.

Jonelle and I became angry as well: angry that the army places recruitment centers in low-income areas with high percentages of minorities, angry that our soldiers are being sent to a war which leaves many of them with PTSD and other mental health problems that they are not receiving treatment for, and angry that those who have literally given both life and limb to protect our county come back and are forgotten about, both by the government and by society in general. We were also angry not just at the situation, but at the fact that we had been ignorant of it. We wanted to let other Carls know about these injustices as well, so we decided that we wanted to do something. Late this term Jonelle and I, along with our friend Anna, organized and chartered the Student Alliance for Veterans and Soldiers (SAVS).

The group is nonpartisan and will focus on correcting the injustices facing both veterans and current soldiers. We hope to do this by spreading awareness, fundraising, organizing letter-writing campaigns, and sending care packages and letters to current soldiers. We are also in contact with the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) and plan on participating in some of their events such as the MACV Stand Down in January. The Stand Down is a one-day event which any and all veterans can attend and receive things like food, shelter, legal aid, and employment & housing assistance. We also hope to host a MACV event here at Carleton spring term for veterans in Northfield, Faribault, and the surrounding areas. Looking ahead to next year and the 2008 presidential election, we also plan on providing information to Carls regarding the stance of each candidate on the challenges facing our veterans and soldiers and what they plan to do to support these groups.

While there will not be any more meetings this term, we hope to proceed with full force early next term. Meetings will most likely take place Thursday nights at 7:30. We are open to any and all ideas and people from any political standpoint. Please contact losacana, carreraj, or herbsta for more information.

*This week, The Carletonian features a new student organization in the rotating column series. We hope to include the voices of various campus groups and academic departments throughout the year with this project. Please contact caffreyj or crowleye for submission guidelines.

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