By Gianluca D’Elia
When Rider was first founded in 1865, its first classes were overwhelmingly made up of Civil War veterans, President Gregory Dell’Omo said. Over 150 years later, the community has still made efforts to honor Rider’s veterans.
At a Nov. 9 Veterans Day service outside North Hall, Eugene Marsh, ’14, spoke about the issues veterans deal with in the U.S., aiming to heighten students’ awareness of how some veterans’ struggles don’t end when they return from combat.
A Vietnam veteran himself, Marsh completed his master’s in clinical mental health counseling at Rider, with the goal of helping other veterans trying to cope with trauma.
“Our veterans still experience difficulty readjusting to civilian life,” Marsh said. “Prescription drugs are being abused, one-third of veterans are unable to secure employment, and thousands of veterans are homeless and spread out on street corners and in homeless shelters.”
Marsh also noted that public opposition to the Vietnam War made it difficult for returning veterans to cope with what they had experienced there.
“America looked down upon me because I was ashamed of being a Vietnam veteran. I removed all evidence that I had served in Vietnam because it was an unpopular war for most Americans. I was unable to secure employment because of racism and discrimination, and I became a homeless veteran in a country that was at war within itself.”
He also discussed his process of recovering and coping with PTSD, and said his time in mental health counseling allowed him to achieve new life goals.
“I believe my purpose has been defined,” he said. “Veterans who are experiencing obstacles need our help so they can return home and become productive citizens.”
The memorial service also honored Rider alumnus Lt. Omar Vasquez, ’07, whose family was in attendance.