Senior Conor Murtagh went through a slight culture shock going from life in the armed forces to Seton Hall. In order to better adjust to life on campus, he reached out to others on campus who might understand his difficulties.
“I went from being one of the ‘young guys’ to the oldest student in almost all of my classes,” Murtagh said.
Murtagh was an Aircraft Maintainer from 2007-2011, completed a tour in Afghanistan in 2010, and majors in secondary education and English at Seton Hall. He is also one of the founding members of the Seton Hall’s new Student Veteran Association.
The Student Veteran Association was created last semester to help ease the transition for students like Murtagh who find assimilating into civilian life harder than they had expected. The current editorial board created the club when they noticed the lack of veteran involvement at Seton Hall.
“A lot of us [veterans] feel out of place at school because of our past experiences and age, so it is a way to become more integrated into the SHU community,” Murtagh said .
The club currently has a roster of at least a dozen students ranging from freshmen to graduate students. Time commitment, however, is not a major concern among the members, where building a support system and community are more key factors in the club’s mission.
“Life outside of the military can be solitary and finding like-minded individuals can really make life easier,” said President Kevin Quigley, a senior diplomacy and international relations major.
Before even becoming a veteran when he ships out for the Navy after graduation in May, Public Affairs Chair and senior psychology major, Jake Leary, already immersed himself in this tightly bonded community.
“I have had a chance to hear firsthand the challenges that our veterans face,” Leary said. “Having the chance to talk to these veterans will help me have a better relationship and be a more effective leader to the enlisted personnel that I will be in command of.”
On Tuesdays, members meet in the library. On Friday nights, they get together outside of campus and share memories of a camaraderie they miss from the military. On other days, they put on events to bring awareness and branch out to other Seton Hall students.
Recently, Alpha Sigma Phi and the Veterans Student Association collaborated to put on an assembly where they spoke informally about what they did in the military, some difficulties they had transitioning, and veteran suicide awareness.
“It gave us a chance to meet new people and answer questions that a lot of people have but might be too uncomfortable asking in a non-formal setting,” Murtagh said.
The club will be raising awareness about veteran suicide again on the green on April 6. They will invite students to participate with them in the social media movement where doing 22 push-ups will represent the 22 veterans a day that commit suicide.
“I believe any member of the club would say the same thing, there’s nothing we wouldn’t do to help out a brother or sister in arms,” said Leary.
Nicole Peregrina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.