Fall 2016

Matt Aldrete (’18, Business)

Not long ago, U.S. Army combat veteran Matt Aldrete found himself reintegrating into civilian life. Drawing on his experiences, the co-founder and president of HSU’s Student Veterans Association is now helping other vets at HSU make that same adjustment and, in the meantime, raising the visibility of veterans and military-affiliated students on campus.

From Afghanistan to Arcata

When I returned from Afghanistan, I was constantly on guard and things like loud noises made me jumpy. During my first week at HSU, I heard the test emergency siren on campus. My heart rate skyrocketed and I had a flashback of the siren that would go off on my base when we were under attack.

Talking to combat veterans at the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) in Eureka, working with HSU’s Veterans Enrollment & Transition Services (VETS), and getting support from family, friends, and mentors Kim Hall, who runs VETS, and VRC Counselor Andy McLaughlin also helped me handle these obstacles. After counseling and finding a place where I fit in, I began to make my transition to civilian life and started to excel in school and life.

Lasting Effects

Trauma shatters basic assumptions about yourself and your world. Feelings like “I’m safe,” “people understand,” “I can trust others,” or “the future is likely to be good” are replaced with feelings like “the world is dangerous,” “no one understands, “ “I can’t trust other people,” or “there’s no hope.”

Voice for Veterans

I realized many veterans were having the same personal and academic struggles. So I helped establish the SVA, and began advocating for veterans on campus and creating a community for military-affiliated students.

‘I’m on a Mission’

Every morning, I wake up and feel like I’m on a mission. I intend to make veterans transition and academic success my highest priority as a campus leader, earn my bachelor’s degree and MBA, and use my experience to help those around me succeed.