On the eve of Vietnam novelist Tim O’Brien’s reading, eight war veterans sat down to discuss their military service for Sierra Nevada College’s first Fireside Chat of the academic school year on Thursday, Sept. 20.
The panel consisted of Freshmen Chris Muravez and Greg Lynch Juniors Joel Granado, Stacey Arnsdorff, Chuck Roesch, Andrew Casey, and Incline Village Veterans Bruce McNulty and Ted Fuller.
Host Andy Whyman and Former Admission Counselor Aaron Tremblay, an Iraq War veteran, were moderators of the discussion.
Each panelist, including Tremblay, gave a small speech about their time overseas. The moderators then asked questions, which were met with varied responses. The floor was then opened to the audience to ask their questions.
Of the 90 people in attendance, seven were Vietnam War veterans, two of which also spoke of personal experience.
The stories told by each panelist were only as descriptive as each veteran was comfortable discussing. Most gave detailed accounts about their time in the service, however, several hardly gave any details at all.
Casey gave details on how he served two tours as a Marine in Iraq, but not much more. Among the few words that Casey spoke that night his opinion on war was
“War is a slut that takes men and never gives them back.”
Lynch spoke on how civilians react when hearing they have served time.
“People are intrigued on why we do the things we do,” said Lynch, an Iraq War veteran.
Being in the service is a great experience and a way to gain perspective agreed most panel members though, their faces showed that they would rather not speak in detail.
“I would give an arm and a leg to be back in a second,” said Lynch, despite the difficult sights he saw while overseas.
Coming back from overseas has different effects on everyone. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is something every service member must face as they re-enter society.
The panelist each showed how hard it was to talk about their experiences. Some panelists preferred not to get into personal details, and some who did share got choked up when speaking.
“We all experience different levels of PTSD. I don’t like alarms.” said Granado, a Cold War veteran. “This generation is able to talk about war unlike older generations.”
Muravez and Lynch were willing to share the most about their time, while other panel members sat in silence.
After coming back from war, many find it difficult to relate to civilians.
“There is no one you can relate to,” said Bruce McNulty, Vietnam War veteran.
Even being in a foreign country is tough. Roesch answered an audience question about what soldiers struggle with.
“You can’t trust anyone,” said Roesch, an Iraq War veteran. “You assume everyone is an enemy.”
There was hope among a few panel members that there would be an end to war.
“I have to believe that, no time soon, there will be no war,” said Muravez
With that hope in mind, the Fireside Chat closed, and the tension that had been in the room since the chat opened, lifted.