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Veterans Remember Those Fallen And Still With Us At UW-Superior Ceremony

Vets Seek Better Transition, Information For Returning Soldiers

United States flags stuck in the ground
Danielle Kaeding/WPR

Veterans, students and staff gathered Friday at the University of Wisconsin-Superior to remember the 222 men and women from Minnesota and Wisconsin who lost their lives during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

They read their names off one by one.

On Veterans Day, U.S. Army National Guardsman Kyle Balko said it’s important for him to remember those who are gone and also those who are still fighting to find their place back home. He said he’d like to see more communication and education about services that are available to veterans.

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Balko, a UW-Superior student who served in Iraq from 2009 to 2010, said it can be difficult for vets to adjust to life outside the military.

“When you’re in the military, you have a schedule,” Balko said. “You know what you’re supposed to do. You go do it, and then that’s it. When you get out, you suddenly don’t have that same purpose. It’s hard for some people to find that drive.”

Many former service members Monte Stewart sees just want to fit in.

“Veterans are a lot older than their peers here on campus so it can be hard to fit in and relate with an 18-year-old freshman when they have such worldly experience,” said Stewart, UW-Superior Veterans Student Services coordinator.

Some feel President-elect Donald Trump is best suited to meet their needs. Exit polls this week indicate vets voted for Trump by a two to one margin despite criticism for his draft deferments and remarks about the family of a slain Muslim soldier.

Superior Air Force veteran Eric Dolsen said he’s politically indifferent, but he adds Trump has been a vocal supporter of vets.

“That was part of his entire campaign was supporting veterans, redoing the VA system and streamlining things better and a little bit bigger for us to get us the needs we may not have and helping people within active duty, reserve, guard,” Dolsen said. “So, we’ll see what comes.”

Either way, Balko said it’s not their job to play favorites.

“When you’re in the military, you’re there for a reason,” Balko said. “You’re not there for that particular person. We’re here for the Constitution, primarily. Above and beyond, it doesn’t matter who is in the Oval Office to us really.”

Trump has a 10-point plan to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs, including creating a commission to investigate fraud, cover-ups and wrongdoing within the VA.