GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – Thousands of students attend the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, but only a few of them may realize hundreds of their classmates are veterans.
“I had someone come up to me today and say, ‘Oh where did you get that scar on your arm?’ I said, ‘I was shot in Afghanistan.’ ‘Oh, I didn’t know you were in the military,’” said John Reid, a UNC senior and student veteran.
Reid is a U.S. Marine with a Purple Heart. He is studying physical education to become a teacher yet transitioning from the military to college hasn’t always been easy.
“It is very difficult to be a non-traditional student, but on top of that you have the whole psychological aspect of re-integrating yourself into society,” he told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
UNC freshman Nathan Olin can relate. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps and is adjusting to student life.
“As Marines we are very to the point. Getting in a classroom is out of that element, so it’s trying to re-learn that,” Olin told Werthmann. “It’s a difficult, difficult thing.”
With the help of Veterans Services on campus, students like Reid and Olin are on a path to success.
They now want to raise awareness to the hard work student veterans put forth in school and the community. To do just that, they’re joining UNC graduate student Ryan Page — who served 11 years with the U.S. Air Force — for a three day, 50+ mile hike.
“We’re going to venture off from here from the Roudebush Cottage, Veterans Services, trek down U.S. 34 to Estes Park,” Page explained.
Throughout their journey from Greeley to Estes Park, Reid, Olin and Page will each carry a 30.0 pound pack — representing the 300 student veterans at UNC.
“I’m doing this for a reason. I’m doing this for purpose. Emotions will be overwhelming, but we are going to get it done,” Page told Werthmann.
Serving others is a lifelong commitment and passion for the student veterans. With their journey west next Friday, they hope to raise money for organizations that support students like them and veterans across Colorado.
“There’s a lot of veterans out there who feel alone,” Reid said. “ I want to make sure they know they have brothers and sisters here for them.”
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.