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A Conversation with Justus Altmiller ’23, Student Veteran

by Paige Hawk Nov 9, 2022
Justus Altmiller Student Veteran 2

Major: History

Branch of Service/Rank: Army specialist

What inspired you to enlist?

It was something that I always wanted to do that I had put off. I was unhappy with my career, so one day I stopped by a recruiter’s office on my way to work and I was like, “I hate my job, get me out of here.” 

What did you learn from serving our country?

The biggest thing I learned is the value of true friendship. I learned the people who I could rely on, and these are people I’d do absolutely anything for. Living in the barracks was its own challenge, but the silver lining is, I knew all my neighbors and I could knock on their door if I was having a tough night. It was nice to have genuine friends and a community.

How do you feel when someone says, “Thank you for your service”?

I don’t usually tell people I’m a veteran because I don’t want to be thanked for it. I understand people want to be respectful, but for a lot of us we feel like we haven’t done that much, or we are reminded of traumas that we want to forget about. 

Is there anything you wish civilians understood about military service?

We lose way more people to training accidents and suicides than combat. Only 10% of people in the service are combat personnel, but the support people are equally as important. There are a lot of people who haven’t deployed and that’s okay. It doesn’t make them any less important. But a lot of people go in expecting one thing and the reality is military service can be boring. You don’t always get to do what you went there to do, and after you come out you can feel like your service was pointless and like you don’t have a support network. It becomes very difficult to reintegrate back into society. It’s hard for people who haven’t experienced it to understand that.

How has the Office of Veterans and Military Services helped you?

Wendy Badman has been exponentially helpful in helping me clear up administrative problems and getting me in touch with resources. The biggest thing she does is go out of her way to introduce other vets to each other and she connects us with the Student Veterans Association and events like Post-Traumatic Purpose, which are great. I highly recommend veterans reach out to her.

Do you have any advice for other veterans?

Join the Student Veterans Association on campus for a sense of community. I can’t plug that enough; it’s helpful talking with others who understand what you’ve been through and doesn’t make you weak. Also, you should know there are all sorts of resources on campus like counseling services and a lounge where I often just hang out. I also recommend looking into your VA benefits so you can get the most out of them.

This November, DeSales is highlighting members of our campus community who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces. We appreciate all that you do.