Veterans Across Campus

Mike Kiraly

In 1979 I enlisted in the Navy and served through 1985 as a Radioman (RM2). I quit high school and received my GED when I was 16 in order to go into active service as soon as I turned 17. My ship, the USS Coral Sea (CV43), along with the USS Nimitz, launched the Iranian hostage rescue effort in 1980 (yes, the offensive that went so afoul). For my participation in that I was awarded the VFW qualifying Navy Expeditionary Medal, as well as the Meritorious Unit Citation.

We served one of the longest continuous at-sea stretches to that time, 102 days. I also served as Communication Petty Officer on the frigate U.S.S. Cook for the Commodore of a destroyer squadron in the South Pacific, spending a great deal of time floating about Australia, Fiji, Pago Pago and the environs. I received an honorable discharge, and have been active in veterans affairs ever since, especially in the CSU when I served on the Vets Affairs subcommittee of the CSU wide Alumni Council, and I am still active in the VFW at the national and local levels.

The Navy made me realize how important an education was, and upon my discharge I enrolled in night classes at the College of Alameda, where I fell in love with “college,” and, well, have hung around ever since. I also would have happily stayed in the service had the prohibition against gays and lesbians been different, but I’m happy my brothers and sisters in arms can now serve openly and, as they have always, heroically.

Karyn Wilson

I was in the Navy from 1975 to 1979 and was an Aviation Electrician E5, Second Class Petty officer. I grew up in New York by Lake Ontario and was ready to do something new since trying college and working at a bank. I knew I could do more. I went to boot camp in Florida, where I experienced my first plane ride. While there, I joined the “Blue Jacket Choir” and sang at several graduations. I was very lucky to get a guaranteed “A” school. My next stop was Millington, Tennessee where I learned electronics, soldering, troubleshooting etc. Females in the Navy at that time were few. I was the only female in class and graduated at the top.

Next stop, my duty station in San Diego at NAS Miramar. This is where I received training on the F14 fighter jet which was a training squadron for the pilots. My first job was a plane captain, which again, I was the first female. Our job was to prepare the F14 for flying and to launch them in day and night operations. After I completed my time as captain I went to work in the Aviation Electrician shop.

I completed my four year enlistment with an Honorable Discharge and decided to be a reservist for one year. Joining the Navy was the best thing I ever did. It taught me to be respectful of others and their position and gave me an outlet to see new places and meet a wide variety of people. Similar to working here at Sonoma State University, you meet a variety of people and learn about new places.

Alumnus Mariano Vazquez

I am a former U.S. Marine who served from August 2004 to August 2008. I graduated from Sonoma State University with a BA in History (with distinction) and two minors. Initially, I did not become a Marine for college benefits, in fact I didn’t want to go to college. However, after spending three years in the service and going on two deployments, I began to think about my future and where I wanted my life to be. I loved being a Marine, but I understood that dedicating my entire life to the Marines would not allow me fulfill my aspirations which were to have a calm stable life and a united family. Therefore, I left the service so that I could begin a new life as a civilian, I felt that the Post 911 GI bill was the opportunity the Military was giving me to start over.

Attending Sonoma State University literally changed my life. I was diagnosed with PTSD before I attended. My life was not going well. I was suffering from the harsh symptoms of the condition. However, while at Sonoma State, the atmosphere of the University helped me transition into civilian life, and keep my mind busy, which was crucial for my well-being. Today, I am a person who is educated, who understands his world better and someone with big dreams who knows he has potential.

Veteran Training for Faculty and Staff

Universities across the nation are experiencing an increase in their student veteran populations. In an effort to ease their transition to campus life, CAPS is offering "Veterans to Campus for Faculty and Staff. Read more about this opportunity at