North Texas Daily

Two veterans, two stories

Two veterans, two stories

Two veterans, two stories
November 12
02:54 2015

Nikki Lyssy | Staff Writer

@Blindnikkii

Wednesday is a day to celebrate and honor the men and women who have served our country. UNT has many veterans on campus who are now college students, and the Student Veteran Services is an organization that they have reaped the benefits of.

Political science and law senior Sean Rictor is one of many veterans on the UNT campus. Having served in the Marine Corps for four years, he was inspired to join the service because of his father, who was also a Marine.

Rictor, who both studied and completed boot camp in San Diego, said the challenging standards behind the passionate Marine mindset were worthwhile to him.

“Accomplishing boot camp and the physical standards and having a positive mindset [was rewarding],” Rictor said. “[It’s about] being able to adapt to different situations.”

Rictor served in the Marine Corps from 1988 to 1992 and participated in the Iraq War as well as Desert Storm. He said he relied on his Christian faith to pull him through when times were especially rough.

“We had a trailer set up to make phone calls. Of course, when you’re getting attacked, they shut them down,” Rictor said. “One day I was on the phone with my mother when that happened, and I looked over, and ‘Som 91’ [a variation of the word ‘Psalm’] was written on the side of the trailer. I knew everything was going to be all right. And it was.”

When he wasn’t actively fighting, a normal day as a soldier for Rictor was spent ensuring that military personnel got their benefits.

“If you serve this country, this country should take care of you,” he said.

But he said it was 20 years after he returned from active duty until someone took the time to thank him for his service. It was a heartwarming acknowledgement for him, he said.

“When I got back from the war, coming off of the plane, there was nobody there for me,” Rictor said. “Nobody ever said ‘Thank you for your service’ until about three years ago. This elderly lady gave me a hug and said, ‘Thank you for your service,’ and it brought tears to my eyes.”

Rictor said he doesn’t expect anyone to thank him for his service because serving his country is an honor, but he is happy that soldiers from the Vietnam War are finally getting the respect they deserve.

“There was a lot of misinformation and protests,” Rictor said, “but now they’re starting [to get respect], and I’m happy for that.”

He also expressed his gratitude for the Student Veteran Services on campus at UNT. Director Jim Davenport is a veteran as well, having served for 21 years in the Army.

“The Veteran’s Center has been a great resource,” Sean said. “Jim is an invaluable resource. Not only is he my boss, friend and mentor, but the Veteran’s Center is there to help you get through any kind of situation you have. He’ll talk to you about any problems you have, outside of classes, personal issues, professional issues.”

Davenport said he joined the Army not only because of familial ties to that particular branch of service, but also because of the lack of job prospects available to him after high school.

“There was a bad recession in 1981 and 1982, and most of the jobs were slowly going away where I was from,” Davenport said. “The only thing that was hiring when I came out of high school was the service. I pretty much knew what the Army was about.”

Davenport said the Army was the only branch he was willing to go into, and he wanted to be an infantryman. The highest position he held was as a staff sergeant. He served during Operation Urgent Fury, (1983), the First Gulf War (1991), Operation Afghanistan Freedom (2001) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003) before his retirement.

After his time in the Army, Davenport said no one helped him reintegrate into civilian life. He immediately knew he wanted to help other veterans in the same situation.

“I started working with the Texas Veterans’ Commission. I resigned after two years and went to UNT, then came back and worked for them for a year,” Davenport said. “When this job became open, I would like to believe I had the right amount of military veterans’ experience for the job.”

Previously, Davenport helped veterans with employment and claims. Now he helps ensure that veterans get through school, graduate and find a job. He said he essentially removes any barrier veteran students may encounter during the course of their college education.

“They might be having trouble getting their medication from the VA [Department of Veteran Affairs] or getting their claim,” Davenport said. “They might have medical problems from the war and have to go to several VA appointments, and maybe a professor doesn’t like that, so I might have to go to a professor and explain why they should have excused absences for stuff like that.”

Additionally, Student Veteran Services honors events like the recent anniversary of the Marine Corps and Veteran’s Day, which was recognized during a special program Wednesday afternoon.

Featured Image: Courtesy | Wikimedia

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