Veterans Day as told by a CMU Student Veteran

Story by Krystal Black
Photo Courtesy of Damien Powell

Today, Nov. 11, is a day meant to honor those who have fought for our country, honor those who have defended what we stand for, and a day that is meant to be filled with pride for the heroism that men and women who went before us showed. Today is Veterans Day.

Most likely, there are veterans all around you. They may be in your families, your friends’ families, your friends themselves or students you pass on campus every day.

One veteran in particular, Central Michigan University senior Damien Powell, knows what it’s like to be both a veteran and a student.

Powell was in the United States Air Force for six years as an Intelligence Analyst.

“My job at Little Rock was to help train and prepare aircrew students with intelligence products and to provide commanders and decision makers with current intelligence information,” Powell said.

Many students don’t realize that they go to school with veterans, and much less someone who has been through official combat training and has been deployed to Afghanistan twice.

“I like to use my experiences to teach other students, and to help inform my fellow students about the life of service-members and veterans, he said.

Powell said his service has changed his perspective on school because he has had to adapt to the different surroundings.

“Prior to joining the Air Force I went to Lake Superior State University for a year. I have changed a lot since then and have learned dedication, discipline, leadership and integrity,” he said.  “It makes it hard to study and learn around traditional students, but that is something I have worked on to stay on goal and graduate early, after only 3 semesters at CMU.”

Aside from being a student and a veteran, Powell understands the importance of Veterans Day.

“Veterans Day is a day for remembrance and honoring of America’s heroes. It is also a day to remind Americans about the issues that Veterans face in their lives and within the government,” Power said. “It also reminds me of my Great Grandpa Powell, who was a soldier during World War II and a Prisoner of War. Sadly, he passed away last year, but I will use the day to remember him and the hard work he put into making our family work.”

Powell said there is a simple way to thank veterans without even saying it.

“The best way to say thank you (to me) is to give me food or a beer,” Powell joked.

Overall, it is important to get to know our veterans, on and off campus.

“Talk to us, ask us questions, and don’t be afraid to ask anything. Be mindful of what you are asking, but feel free to ask anything you are curious about, and chances are that if the veteran does not want to answer the question, they will politely let you know,” he said. “We all have unique stories, come from different backgrounds, and had many difference experiences”.

Veterans Day provides the opportunity to understand and appreciate the men and women who gave their time – and in some cases, lives – for our freedom. Take the time to thank a veteran this Veterans Day and every day.