The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Bridging the gap between enemy lines

By Karen Gavis/se news editor

For trained fighters, adjusting to college life takes on a whole new meaning.SE student Jason Donnell, who is currently in the Naval Reserves, served four years in the military as a Navy corpsman with the Marine Corps, spending seven months in Iraq. Navy corpsmen are trained to medically assist members of the Marine Corps.Before someone can assist the Marines, the person has to be like them, he said.

“I have to be able to shoot like them. I have to be able to kick doors in like them,” he said. “I’m a sailor just like a Marine until something medical happens. Then, I drop my weapon and pull my medical bag out and take care of the Marine.”

In the battlefield, if something needs done, someone does it, and that is the way it is, Donnell said.

“We had to train in tactical medical care and be able to do it under fire,” he said. “We are trained to do what we feel comfortable with within our scope of practice.”

Donnell’s skills are not as transferable stateside. To be certified, he would need to be “taught” what he already knows, he said.

“Technically, I could file paperwork. That’s it,” he said. “I’m not willing to start over.”  

Donnell would need to complete training to receive certification as an emergency medical technician. Instead, he is pursuing a degree in business and has a patent pending for an invention that holds cosmetology supplies. Donnell’s wife is a cosmetologist.

“That’s kind of cool to have your name on a patent saying you’re an inventor,” he said.

South Campus psychology professor and Army medical services Maj. Charles Overstreet said professionals can take their civilian experience to the military.

“But not the other way around,” he said.

Overstreet argued for some sort of short course that would allow military with medical training to be certified more quickly when returning to the civilian population because retraining completely does not seem efficient.

“I guess no one has ever thought of it,” he said.

While in Iraq, Donnell slept next to burn pits and was not allowed to brush his teeth with the water, he said.

“It was hot, sandy. It stunk, and it was hard on your body. It was extremely hard on your body,” he said.

Donnell said there were three main things on his agenda: don’t die, do job and get chow.

“That’s how you live over there, chow to chow,” he said.

Donnell said he received three days training to help him adjust back into civilian life. And it is stressful.

Adjusting to college has been a different transition, he said, but the GI Bill and his housing allowance are making it less stressful for him to complete his education.

He said he likes the friendships he made in the military but prefers civilian life.

“We get tired of going over there because we miss our families,” he said.

Donnell and his wife were married on dirt bikes in the Australian rain forest shortly before he deployed to Iraq. They have five children.

Dr. Elizabeth Joseph teaches Donnell English II on SE Campus. She said she is happy to have him in her class because he is a good student who comes to class on time, meets deadlines and is well prepared.

“He is a very hard-working, conscientious young man who practices the discipline and punctuality he learned as a military personnel,” she said.

Donnell originally wanted to go to work for a private military operation, but that did not happen, he said.

“Things don’t always work out sometimes,” he said. “You just have to adjust fire and go on.”


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