My Story and the Veterans Scholarship Fund by Traci Click
Scholarship mission statement:
Promotion of excellence through scholarship in veterans (philanthropic legacy fund created to promote excellence in veterans)
My reason for creating the fund:
When I got out of the Army, I was pretty beat down. I had been medically discharged. I had some medical issues as a result of my service. Going through the medical board process was grueling and at times a bit degrading. I spent some time in the WTU, and I saw a lot of guys that had it a lot worse. Some of these guys were Bronze Star recipients. They had served their country valiantly and now were being treated like the trash that gets put out to the road instead of the heroes that they were. It made me sick. I told myself that when I finally got out, I would do something to help change things. So that is what I did.
The day I got discharged, I packed up my truck and went to Texas to help a friend that had a kayaking school. He did some classes for amputee vets. I thought that this would be a great way for me to start helping out. I had great intent, but what I neglected to realize was that I needed time to heal myself before I could help anyone else. I ended up leaving after a few months. However, my resolve for my own recovery became pretty strong. So I applied for college, activated my GI Bill, and went home to stay with my dad until it was time to go out to Colorado to college in the spring. It was kind of tough living with dad. He really had a hard time understanding why I was waking up screaming at night and why I could not remember simple things that he would tell me the day before.
Mostly I spent a lot of time riding my bike. It was kind of all I felt like doing. By the time January came around, I was ready to move on. I packed up my stuff, and I was off to Colorado. When I got to Colorado, I realized that if I was going to succeed in college, I needed to deal with my issues, so I went to the Mental Health center down the street from the school. I would go 2-3 times a week. Finally I got off all the meds that the Army doctors had prescribed. My therapist at the Mental Health center said I had PTSD and started treating me for that. It made a huge difference.
Once I was off the meds, I could remember things again, and I did not shake all the time. I poured 100% of my energy into school. My professors were all good people, and they helped me a lot. It was really therapeutic to have a goal. Being in school made me stay on track. This year I graduated cum laude, and I got a job coaching kayaking at a private school. I would not be where I am today had I not gone back to school and faced my problems. I wanted to encourage other vets to do the same thing. I saw that a lot of guys, including myself, come out of the military beat down. The whole medical board process can sometimes give people a victim mentality. Going to school and exceling at something again helped me get out of that.
I set up the Veterans Scholarship Fund in order to help others reconnect with that inner sense of empowerment that a broken system took away. I have a criteria sheet that everyone fills out. The whole point is to encourage vets who have experienced adversity to embrace the adversity, move on, and go on to do excellent things and help influence other vets for the better. I chose to call it the Veterans Scholarship Fund instead of the “Click Scholarship Fund” because I wanted everyone to take ownership. The intent is to have other veterans and non-veterans see the value in what I have started and help add to the fund.
Visit the Veterans Scholarship Fund Online at: http://www.western.edu/foundation/fund.html