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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Speakers share personal experiences with military

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The Collegian Logo

By Bailey Garrison/reporter

SE Campus English instructor and Air Force veteran Dianne Suarez and several of her War Literature students presented a Nov. 7 session about military life in Perspectives of the Peacemakers.

Veterans face various challenges transitioning back into civilian life including employment, post-traumatic stress disorder and college.

Suarez required her students to interview a war veteran and discuss their experience serving in the U.S. military. In addition, a few students volunteered to tell their war stories and how they have adjusted.

“War stories do not always mean stories about war but may reveal personal experiences,” Suarez said. “Soldiers go through hell. If you don’t laugh, you are going to cry.”

Among the guest speakers were Maggie Davis and Sgt. Gary Strange.

Maggie Davis talked about her uncle, Dennis Jokela, a seven-time decorated veteran. Jokela also served as a sheriff’s department chaplain in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Jokela joined the Navy in 1974 and served a four-year term during the Vietnam War.

“He felt honorable to his father who also served in the military,” Davis said.

Jokela served as an aviation electrician in the flight operations unit on the USS Coral Sea. It was his responsibility to ensure that pilots flew under safe conditions and that machinery was operating correctly.

“His job is considered one of the most dangerous in the world,” Davis said.

He lost partial hearing, earned little income and lived in small quarters but traveled to 18 countries.

“Join the Navy, and you will see the world since it is 80 percent water,” Jokela said.

Staff Sgt. Gary Strange discussed his 11 and a half years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“The Marines actually invented the digital form of camouflage the military uses today,” Strange said.

In addition to his memorabilia, Strange shared multiple stories about boot camp, missions and adjusting to society.

“You learn to be OK with it,” he said.

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