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New local student veterans group highlights issues faced by veterans as they return to civilian life

Jim Craig, James Petersen, Heath McClung, and Jonathan Hurly, all veterans, joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss what it is like to be a student veteran.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Jim Craig, James Petersen, Heath McClung, and Jonathan Hurly, all veterans, joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss what it is like to be a student veteran.

When people think of the issues faced by veterans in their return to civilian life, the mind often goes to stereotypes: trauma, PTSD, disability. That’s not the only story to tell, said Jonathan Hurly, president of the Saint Louis University Veterans Association.

“The issue is that we’re focusing a lot on ‘the issues,’” Hurly told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh. “… We’re on the hunt for a contribution to society. Now, more than ever, we need resilience and leadership in politics, communities and businesses. Where we’re going to get them, just like we saw with the Service Members Reintegration Act of World War II, is this commitment to leadership and service that veterans bring home with them.

“They have ability to be amazing leaders, but people just focus on the issues.”

Hurly, along with two other presidents of student veterans organizations at Washington University and the University of Missouri – St. Louis have banded together to address some of the issues outside of the stereotypes that student veterans face when reintegrating into civilian life at a university. They’ve created a group called Student Veterans of St. Louis.

James Petersen, the president of Washington University’s student veterans association, said that student veterans must face down social isolation on campus. Heath McClung, the president of UMSL’s organization, said that student veterans must find ways to connect with campus, which can be a challenge when students are younger and have a little less world exposure than veterans usually do.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, during Student Veterans Week, these three student veterans, alongside Jim Craig, a retired U.S. army Lieutenant Colonel and associate teaching professor and chair of the Department of Military and Veterans Studies at UMSL, joined the program.

They discussed the work student veterans are doing in the community to draw awareness to the issues veterans face as they re-enter civilian life. Listen to the full interview here:

There are several events that have been organized for this year's Student Veterans Week in St. Louis. You can find a complete list here

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

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