Veterans Support Services
North Foundation Hall, Room 116
318 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309-4454
(map)
(248) 370-2010
vss@oakland.edu
Office Hours:
M-F: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Office of the Registrar
O'Dowd Hall, Room 100
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(map)
(248) 370-3450
Registrar Services fax: (248) 370-3890
Academic Records fax: (248) 370-2586
regservices@oakland.edu
Office Hours:
M-F: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Veterans Stories

Few individuals have the relentless drive it takes to say they are a United States military veteran. But for those who can, many have found a new home right here at Oakland University. Because if there is one thing that a United States military veteran and a Golden Grizzly have in common, it’s that they never quit.

Check out the below veteran’s stories to get a taste of what it’s like to be a veteran and a Golden Grizzly.

Chad Samson

United States Army - 1998-2007

Chad Samson enlisted in the Army in 1998 to open up possible opportunities for himself. He served as Military Police for 8 ½ years. He worked in corrections in the United States and Cuba while enlisted. Chad assisted directly in transitioning from the old prison in Guantanamo Bay to the new prison. He was among the first of active duty Military Police to completely take control of the military prison in Cuba. As his time in the service was coming to an end, Chad decided to work in a completely different atmosphere. Chad became a licensed insurance agent and currently works for Statefarm, a happy family man, and a father of 3. After waiting over 5 years, Chad began his adventures here at Oakland University. He graduated with his Bachelors in Spanish Language and Literature with a minor in History and is currently working on his Masters in Linguistics. Being a proud of his university Chad is involved with many different organizations on campus. He is currently the Treasurer of Sigma Delta Pi; Theta Psi, and has also created the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society. Chad has had a very successful transition from military life back to civilian and is now achieving dreams that may not have been possible before his time served. Chad would like all veterans to know that life after service is possible, that if he could achieve it, then all veterans can.

Christian Ditching

My Marine Corps Experience

Fresh out of high school in 2011, I followed the well-trodden path that majorities of young Americans in our society choose to follow; applying to colleges, deciding what major will fit my dream job, etc. However, I felt that I needed to do something worthwhile. I wanted to go down a path that will take me out of the comfortable monotony of the average American lifestyle. I wanted to walk down a path that not many people have traveled, and that path was the military. After making the decision, I looked into each military branch to see what they had to offer. After doing some research and talking to the recruiters, the branch that stood out in my eyes was the Marine Corps. The recruiters there were very professional, had the best-looking uniforms, and displayed an enthusiasm about the organization that the other branches seem to lack. A few days later after talking it over with my parents and receiving their blessings, I went back to the recruiting office took the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Test), took the oath, swore in, and then signed a 5 year contract as an aircraft mechanic MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) 6100, in the United States Marine Corps. My recruiter then informed me of the long list of recruits ahead of me that were waiting to be shipped off to boot camp, and that I would have to be placed in the delayed entry program (DEP) until my time came to go. Upon hearing the news, there came over me a sense of frustration and eagerness. At the same time, I knew that there was nothing I can do on my part to accelerate the process. During that time in the DEP was the time I received my acceptance letter to Oakland University. I was extremely excited to be accepted to the college that I wanted to go to, but I knew that I wouldn’t be staying there for long.

Approximately 6 Months after I had signed my enlistment contract, I put my student status at Oakland on hold, said my final goodbyes to my family, and then boarded the plane at Detroit Metro enroute to Georgia, where a bus was waiting to take myself and about 40 others to our ultimate fate at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in Beaufort, South Carolina. Boot Camp was a rude awakening in my experience. It was 3 months of waking up at 0500 to a constant yelling and berating by the Drill Instructors, coupled with an emphasis on close order drill, rifle marksmanship, and Marine Corps knowledge. Upon graduating boot camp, I spent 10 days back home in Michigan, and was soon sent to Camp Geiger in Jacksonville, North Carolina for Marine Combat Training (MCT). MCT was not as intense as boot camp, but it was grueling nonetheless. In a nutshell, MCT was a month of learning infantry tactics, familiarizing ourselves with various machine guns, grenade launchers, and night vision equipment, all culminating in a weeklong event that simulated combat conditions, and finally concluded with an 18-kilometer hike with a full pack of gear. On the same day, I graduated MCT, I was sent to my A-school, which was in the cradle of naval aviation, Naval Air Station Pensacola, in Pensacola, Florida. There I was trained in the basic operations of US naval aviation and basic aircraft maintenance procedures. I spent 2 months in Pensacola, and graduated the course in the 5 top of my class, in which I was rewarded with a choice of platform to work on. I was given a choice between the Vietnam War era CH-53 transport helicopter, and the airplane/helicopter hybrid MV-22B tiltrotor. Mulling over the choices, it was clear that I wanted work on a unique aircraft that was on the cutting edge of aviation technology, and that was the MV-22B Osprey. Soon after I received my orders back to Jacksonville, North Carolina on Marine Corps Air Station New River, I started my training as an MV-22B airframe mechanic. With the chosen platform, my MOS also changed from the generalized aviation MOS 6100, to the Osprey specific MOS 6156. The MOS school in New River taught me about the different mechanical and hydraulic systems that made the Osprey function, as well as more specific maintenance related tasks such as carbon fiber repair, tire replacement, and hydraulic component replacement. When all was said, and done, it was 3 months of C-school before I received orders to my first unit, and at that point, it had been almost a year before I entered the fleet.

The first unit I checked into was Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (VMM-261). The feeling of being the new guy fresh out of training caused a little anxiety in the back of my mind. I knew I had a lot to prove to the shop full of experienced Marines that had just come back from deployment. The first few months in the Fleet was rough. Having recently checked in to the unit, I was at the bottom of the food chain, and was subject to the whims of my senior NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers) whose orders had to be carried out with a sense of urgency and with no hesitation. I was prone to making mistakes, and I made plenty of them. Each time I messed up, I was corrected accordingly, usually through loud one sided discussions, or through meaningless, mind numbing, repetitive tasks that you were forced to do until you were told to stop by a senior ranking member of the shop.

Customs and courtesies was a concept that was harped on relentlessly by my seniors. Unlike the civilian world where you can talk to anyone however you wanted regardless of position or social standing, in the Marine Corps, if you needed to talk to a higher-ranking Marine, you had to initiate conversation by saying the greeting of the day, followed by their rank, and then finally the subject of your statement, all the while standing up straight with your feet shoulders width apart, and with your hands behind your back (Parade Rest). Every time your seniors said something, you were immediately required to acknowledge their statement with “Aye” or “yes” followed by their rank. Failure to follow these rules was punishable by louder one-sided discussions or meaningless, repetitive tasks, such as cleaning or walking up and down the flight line with a 60-pound toolbox. I spent 6 months at VMM-261 before they had to cut Marines from the shop for being over staffed, in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Being one of the Marines with the least experience in the shop, I was transferred to a sister squadron, VMM-264. VMM-264 is where I ultimately spent the rest of my enlistment (4 years total), and where I grew as a Marine and as a maintainer. The dynamic of this squadron was more accommodating to new check ins than my old squadron, and the experienced maintainers in the shop were more willing to teach you about the aircraft in order to make you better at your job.

In 2014, within the first year of checking in with my new squadron, I was preparing to go on my first deployment for the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response (SP-MAGTFCR) based in Moron, Spain. This task force was created as a direct response to the attacks in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. Our unit, along with an infantry and logistics unit, would be responding to any crisis that occurred in the northern part of the African continent in which Americans were in danger. The start of deployment was calm, in fact it was like being back in the states. The work day would start at 0600 in the morning, and end at 1700 (5pm) in the evening, where the night shift would take over responsibilities. Each day, I would run hydraulic samples, check the tire pressures of each of the 12 aircraft that my squadron was responsible for, and then work on any maintenance that needed to be done. Since we were not in a combat zone, our command gave us the weekends off, in which we could board buses that go out in town, which gave us a chance to experience and enjoy the Spanish sites and culture. About half way through deployment, ISIS was becoming big news in the media, and soon there were reports that the organization was about to retake Iraq. About that time, the commanding officer of my squadron gathered everyone in the giant hanger in which we were working out of, and informed us of our new mission. It was made apparent that there was a large group of refugees that were fleeing the violence caused by the ISIS counter attack, and were now trapped on a mountain top in Iraq called Mount Sinjar, surrounded by ISIS forces. The CO informed the squadron that the Pentagon wanted those refugees rescued, and it was going to be our mission to rescue them. The CO then gave the squadron the timeline of a week to prepare the aircraft before we were expected to commence the operation. This news hit the squadron hard, and it gave us a purpose for being out in Spain and got the squadron focused on the mission at hand. Lives were now at stake, and any delays or mistakes on our part would be costly. The command immediately instituted 12 hour shifts with a greater emphasis on aircraft readiness. Everyone was on edge. On the day the mission was to commence, myself and 2 other fellow Marines were racing down the flight line checking the hydraulic systems and landing gear of the aircraft prior to take off, when we were told to stop what we were doing and run to the hangar. In the hangar, the entire squadron was gathered, and our CO broke the news. It turned out that a recon team was sent to the mountain the night prior to us taking off, and they discovered that the refugees have found a path off the mountain, and were no longer in danger. It was good news to hear, but at the same time, disappointing, because all the hard work and preparations leading up to that point, was for nothing. The remaining 3 months of deployment were uneventful, and we were relieved by another squadron, VMM-266, in which were headed back to the states.

A year later in July 2016, I embarked on my second deployment with the squadron in support of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1). Our MEU was to operate off the coast of Libya in support of Operation Odyssey Lightning, an operation that sought to defeat ISIS forces in Libya. The operations tempo on the ship was relentless. Everyone was working 12 hours on and off, with no weekends. Days blended together, and my sense of time was gone. The aviation combat element, which comprised of my squadron’s Ospreys, a unit of AV-8B harrier jump jets, and a unit of Huey and Cobra gunships, were launching sorties daily, nearly every hour of the day for 3 continuous months. On the flight deck, I would watch our Ospreys take off first, followed by Huey and Cobras which were loaded with missiles and thousands of rounds of ammunition, and finally, the Harriers with their complement of bombs and rockets. Like clockwork, I would see these aircraft loaded with munitions, and then come back hours later completely empty, and then loaded back up and sent out again. I knew that we were making a difference and destroying ISIS in Libya, judging form huge number of bombs and rockets that were being used each day. After the three months of continuous bombing, our ship was relieved by the USS San Antonio (LPD-17) to continue air strikes in Libya, while our ship was headed to a port call in Souda Bay, Crete for a well-deserved break from operations. Crete was a nice place to visit, even more so since I got to breathe fresh air on land, as oppose to the stale, jet fuel scented air on the ship. The people there were extremely friendly since they knew we were American, and that the sudden influx of Marines and Sailors would rake in huge amounts revenue for the local businesses. The one thing I cannot recommend enough, is the authentic Greek Gyro. For 3 euro, you can have a full sized Greek Gyro packed with slabs of beef, Mediterranean tomatoes and onions, and a heaping serving of ziti sauce. Gyros made in America, do not compare. We spent a week in Crete, where we left port and were headed to the coast of Yemen, where an anti- shipping missile had been fired at the USS San Antonio a week prior. Our ship was headed there with its aviation assets as a show of force in the area. We were on station for almost a month, which were thankfully uneventful. After sailing off the coast of Yemen, we transited back though the Suez Canal and continued bombing operations off the coast of Libya, until 2 weeks prior to Christmas, 2016, where we were finally sailing home. According to the ship’s captain, our MEU had dropped nearly 400 bombs, which was a record for a Marine MEU and a Navy LHD. To Commemorate this accomplishment, the Captain had his sailors paint 400 little black bombs on the side of the ship’s island. Our efforts have also allowed government forces in Libya to liberate the city of Sirte from ISIS forces. We made it home 2 days before Christmas, and a month later, at the end of January, I went on terminal leave and was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps as a Sergeant. (E-5).

Making the transition from the military to civilian life has been a little awkward. The customs and courtesies that I had grown accustomed to in the Marine Corps, are nonexistent in the civilian world. The sense of doing things with a sense of urgency that has been drilled in my head by the Marine Corps since day 1, is out of place in a society that values individuality, and possess a “do what you want” attitude. Admittedly, it angers me a little, but I am prevailing with a cooler head and adapting back to the civilian way of doing things. Coming back to Oakland University 5 years after I took my first class on campus in 2011, a lot has changed. The University is expanding, and one of the first things I noticed was the new clock tower and the high-tech looking engineering building, two things that didn’t exist in 2011. I suppose this is a gauge of how successful the University is becoming, which is a good thing, and which I am now proud to be a part of. If I could go back in time and choose a different path, I would choose the same path that I have currently chosen for my life. Through my time in the military, I have traveled to different places in the world, affected change through my actions, experienced different cultures, and communicated with people who speak different languages. I have also made friends and worked with some the best people that I have had the honor to serve with, who come from vastly different parts of the country. Overall, I do not regret my time in the military, and it is a decision that I am glad that I have made.

Lance Corporal Trevor L. Convery

Intelligence Analyst, 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines

LCpl Convery joined the Marine Corps in August of 2009 and attended Marine Corps Recruit Depot Paris Island, South Carolina. Upon graduating recruit training and Marine combat training, LCpl Convery was assigned to Dam Neck Naval Base in Virginia Beach VA for intelligence analyst training and graduated in June of 2010. LCpl Convery was then assigned to Lima Company 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and immediately began training for a deployment to Afghanistan. LCpl Convery served as the company level intelligence cell (CLIC) within an infantry company. While training for the upcoming deployment, LCpl Convery was given 6 infantrymen to cross train and aid in the duties of CLIC operations which resulted in successful future missions. During this timeframe, LCpl Convery earned his green belt in Marine Corps Martial Arts training as well as various other certifications for intelligence and analytics. In February of 2011, 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan where Lima Company split from the rest of the battalion and was assigned to the village of Now Zad approximately fifteen miles away. Responsible for analyzing and developing relevant actionable intelligence for the infantrymen and their leaders, LCpl Convery provided essential intelligence specific to missions being conducted and coordinated by the commanders. These actions highly aided in having the highest success rate on evidence and detainee collection within the battalion. Upon returning from Afghanistan, LCpl Convery was recognized for his proficiency and dedication to duty and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. Upon returning to Camp Lejeune in October of 2011, LCpl Convery served as the battalion subject matter expert on background investigations and supported the Marines within the battalion to ensure they had the clearance they needed in order to attain the roles and duties they sought out. In February of 2012 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines began a workup for a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), which is a partnership with the Navy to serve as a task force providing swift responses to overcome any threat on land, in air and at sea. As 3/2 was assigned to the 26th MEU, LCpl Convery assumed the same role as CLIC analyst through the several working exercises including embarkation and debarkation, tactical questioning and several ranges needed to qualify for the deployment. In March of 2013 the 26th MEU deployed to the 5th and 6th fleet in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. Lima Company was assigned to the USS San Antonio and along with the rest of the battalion and 26th MEU, participated in many multi-national exercises. These exercises consisted of readiness and partnership training with several nations to include Jordan, Qatar and Djibouti as well as stops to Bahrain, Israel, Spain and Crete. During these exercises, LCpl Convery served as liaison between Lima Company and headquarters ensuring that training requirements were conducted and fulfilled. During this time, the first chemical weapon attack was reported within Syria, which forced the USS San Antonio to travel to the coast of Syria and Marines and Sailors aboard to be ready for response measures should they be needed to counter any further attacks or respond as needed. 3/2 returned home from deployment shortly after that in November of 2013. LCpl Convery was Honorably Discharged from the United States Marine Corps on May 25th 2014; he then moved to Shelby Township with his wife and enrolled in the Criminal Justice Homeland Security program here at Oakland University.

SPC Mason Turrell

Multichannel Transmission Systems Operator-Maintainer (25Q)

US Army

I grew up in Clinton Township, Michigan, and at 23 I enlisted in the Army and attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma followed by Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Gordon, Georgia. I deployed with Bravo Company, 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion (ESB) to Iraq. While deployed I was attached to 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment (ACR) were we established the communications network for over 20,000 soldiers. When I returned home in 2011, Bravo Company’s mission was redirected to respond to homeland disasters. During this time, I worked closely with FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. In 2012, I relocated to my next unit in South Korea. There I was a team leader, and my primary mission was to work with the South Korean military to provide communications for the soldiers on the peninsula. Following this stint in South Korea, I reported back to Bravo Company in 2013 as a Training Room Specialist. I was in charge of records for PT, marksmanship, and other training records for the company. I finished my enlistment with Bravo Company until I was medically retired in 2015. My experiences in the Army are unparalleled. I was able to establish communications networks that enhanced the fighting ability of the US Army and the US allies supporting the effort of OIF/OND. Since exiting the Army I went back to school and now attend Oakland University. I am graduating in April of 2018 with a degree in Criminal Justice. While at Oakland University, I have worked for the Veterans’ Support Services Office and became the President of the Student Veterans of Oakland University. I look to extend my passion of helping other veterans into my career.

Peter Mullin

United States Navy

Peter Mullin was seasoned durability / developmental test driver with the Ford Motor company for 15 years. However, at 30 years old the recession hit in 2008. Like many others in the area he was laid off an was forced to find a new career. In 2009 he attended a company event that was heavily laden with veterans. After spending the night talking with everyone and hearing stories of “the good ole days” he was intrigued. He joined the and shipped off to boot camp for the Navy. He was stationed aboard the USS Tucson (SSN-770) out of Pearl Harbor. While serving on the USS Tucson (a nuclear submarine) he was in charge of teaching new seaman how to steer a 360-foot nuclear powered steel tube with no windows. He often told the new seaman “No pressure kid, but you actually have 130 lives in your hands. Oh wait, we’re underwater. So yes, there is pressure.”

While transiting on a Standard bell (moderate speed) through open ocean, Peter was literally breathing over the shoulder of his student driver making sure that he was watching his instrumentation while they also rehearsed repeat-backs before he said something stupid to the Officer of the Deck (OOD).  The other three members of the ships control party were simply listening in gleeful anticipation of the next screwed up repeat-back to stutter out of his nervous mouth.  Business as usual. With no warning, the boat suddenly pitched upward with a 50-foot ascent.  Pots and pans could be heard crashing below in the galley, and Peter’s junior under-instruct helmsman began throwing the wheel around in a wild panic.  Without thinking, Peter grabbed him by the scruff of his uniform, threw him down the command passageway by the CO's door, and took over as helm. Just as suddenly, the boat pitched downward the 50 feet that they just ascended moments before. Once ordered depth was re-attained, the boats brass came storming into Control to figure out what just happened.  Upon review of sea-water conditions, they quickly discovered that they drove through an isolated pocket of cold water with high salinity that had broken off from a nearby oceanic cold front.  In other words, the boat was trimmed for operation at a certain depth / speed / temperature / salinity, and mother nature decided to throw us a curve ball.  

Peter is now a COM student at Oakland University and a standing junior. He currently is in an internship at Roush Industries working in their prototype division.

The follow is one of Peter’s fond memories while in the Navy

“Messing with Surface Fleet (underway for about a month, but not deployed)

T.R.E. Tactical Readiness Evaluation (pronounced Tree).  It's a test that every warship has to take each year to certify that it can make war if called upon to do so.  We (the Tucson) were called upon to be the guinea pig for a surface fleet battle group of cruisers and destroyers for their T.R.E. group evaluation.  Unfortunately for us, we were relegated to a very small body of water, and we also had to run our diesel back-up generator at periscope depth.  In other words, we had to stay shallow and make a bunch of noise.  Precisely what any stealth vessel doesn't want to do, but we had to at least try to make surface fleet feel good about themselves. If you haven't figured it out yet, there's a tangible "Us vs Them" relationship between Surface, and Sub Fleet.  They (surface fleet) think that we're crazy, while we (Subs) know that they're just stupid. 

While we were making noisy waves in a small steam box, it was only a matter of time before we were spotted by an airborne anti-submarine patrol craft that soon started dropping SONAR buoys all around us.  Before long, that nearby surface fleet battle group came running in with their active SONAR, pinged us, and we were soon considered dead.

Hooray for surface fleet...

About a month later, it was the Tucson's turn to re-certify for T.R.E.  And much to the desire of our exacting revenge, the Tucson now gets to hunt down and kill that same battle group that was still beaming from their previous would-be success.  Only this time, we're in full-on nuclear fast attack mode, and we were using exercise torpedoes that we actually get to shoot at them.  Same speed and capabilities as normal torpedo, minus the several hundred pounds of explosive ordinance. Keeping in mind that Surface fleet aren't "complete" idiots, we proceeded with caution from the deep to periscope depth.  While looking around, we quickly discovered the battle group running slow and silent.  We then dove back down, only to come up on the other side of them, take pictures of them through our periscope, and then email the pictures to them just to mess with them.  We could tell when they got their emails too, because they all sped up into a high-speed active SONAR induced panic.  

After a few hilarious rounds of "now you see me, now you don't," we had our fun and soon laid virtual waste to the now morally defunct surface battle group.  

“Victory belong to the Tucson that day, and surface fleet tears never tasted so good...”