|Glen Lacroix working with student Veteran during a SERV class session|
“I live my life every day like it’s Veterans Day. When I’m in class, I’m in class for them.”
For Glen Lacroix, a University of Arizona student and Veteran, his life and his pursuits are just as much for him as it is for the friends he’s lost in wars past.
When asked what he’ll do for Veterans Day, Lacroix said he’ll be remembering the men and women he served with, both on his own and with fellow Veterans.
It’s that memory that motivates him to help other Veterans, especially those who are students.
Service Member to Student
Lacroix understands personally the struggle to leave military service and rebuild your life. He served for 13 years in the military. Suffering from TBI and PTSD, Sergeant First Class Lacroix was medically discharged from the service in 2005. He went on to work as a contractor for a security firm for three years. Lacroix said at first focusing on work helped him battle through some of the effects, but one day it became not enough.
“It wasn’t until all the things came together when I was curled up on the floor on the hotel floor in San Diego and I was mentally and emotionally drained. But basically as I walked away, a lot of the issues that were haunting me, I left behind.”
Leaving the issues behind started him on what he said has been a long road back. He started classes and became involved in Student Veterans of America, University of Arizona chapter. Now as the president of the chapter, it has been recognized as the Chapter of Year and Lacroix has been awarded President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award for more than 100 hours of volunteering. He is now a junior at the university and majoring in psychology.
Lacroix counts Dr. Michael Marks, a VA psychologist, as a major player in getting him to refocus and consider what life after the service means. Dr. Marks provides individual and group counseling every Tuesday on campus. Offering care at the university has allowed Lacroix and his fellow student Veterans to not make a choice between their health and education.
As a work study student for VA, Lacroix assists Dr. Marks in the classroom. The classes focus on supportive education for returning Veterans (SERV). The SERV series consists of three classes: Resiliency, Teaching to Learn and Leadership. Dr. Marks developed the classes to build on the skills learned in the military and prepare Veterans for the corporate world.
“What we try to do is rather than have them do rote exercises, we take different themes, and we look at it from different perspectives.”
Lacroix, a former student of the class, said it helped him understand that as a Veteran he still has so much to give. The class is for Veterans only and allows them to face the transition to civilian life together and accepting what binds them together. Dr. Marks said the course’s design builds on the common life experience.“They’re always going to be a Veteran and rather than try to change, it was actually to tap into that as a strength, rather than a deficiency,” said Marks.
Working with Dr. Marks not only has been an opportunity to serve Vets and share his knowledge, but learn just as much from the experiences of his fellow classmates and comrades-in-arms.
“We’re not only helping other Veterans, we’re helping the rest of the student population, the rest of the community to understand what Veterans experience.”
It’s also deepened his desire to have a career in service to Veterans.
“I want to be able to come back to the VA, provide psychological and physical therapy for Veterans. Their spirit is amazing and I want to be able to help Veterans in my life to get back to the place their lives to realize that they’re special.”
Lacroix plans to go on to receive his doctorate in physical therapy so he can provide complete mind and body care for returning Veterans.
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