Hamline News

Veterans at Hamline Have Much to Share

On this Veterans Day and every day, Hamline is proud to support and educate those who’ve served our country.

Talking to only a few members of the Hamline community who are veterans reveals diverse histories and wide ranges of experience.

Student Kelley Lasiewicz ‘19 and Hamline Director of Public Safety Melinda Heikkinen agreed that though all veterans on campus share the experience of military service, each one has a unique skill set and point of view.

“Each person comes in with a different story; a different reason for joining the military; and, a different reason for coming to Hamline,” said Lasiewicz, currently a Master Sergeant in the Air Force Reserve.

“While many of us have had similar experiences and you will see us chatting away about them, we are also unique individuals,” said Heikkinen who retired from the Marines as a Sergeant and later joined and retired from the Army National Guard as a Master Sergeant, “Take a minute to get to know us.”

It is definitely worth the time.

Lasiewicz wanted to study forensic anthropology at Hamline after finishing active duty in the Air Force. She ended up waiting eight years to come to campus. In the interim, she joined the reserves, married and had two children.

Her time at Hamline is busy.

Lasiewicz is an Honors student, an Anthropological Society member, and a transfer new student mentor. She is a military student relations liaison for Hamline’s Military Veterans Student Organization. She also volunteers with Walk-On Therapeutic Riding, an organization that works with various groups of individuals, including those with PTSD.

In addition to fulfilling school responsibilities and family obligations, Lasiewicz serves one weekend a month plus two weeks during the year in the reserves. She also puts in extra days for unit training assembly because she is in a leadership position.

Now, poised to graduate in May, she looks forward to a leadership training exercise with the reserves over the summer and graduate school in the fall.

Lasiewicz noted that the experience of being a student is much different than being in the military.

Lasiewicz said, “The transition from the military, where your told what to do, to Hamline, where you have to learn to structure your own time, can be difficult for veterans.”

Hamline provides assistance for students who are veterans through the Military Student Resource Center and the Military Student Support Committee. Dan Merly, Hamline’s School Certifying Official, helps with paperwork and benefits.

Lasiewicz noted that the only thing that could be added at Hamline is a specific veteran advisor who understands what it is to be a reservist and who knows about all of the programs that the Department of Veterans Affairs offers.

The busy Lasiewicz will spend Veterans Day recharging and possibly taking advantage of a much appreciated discounted meal with her family.

Heikkinen will embark on a new tradition this Veterans Day having recently joined the American Legion. She plans to participate in events to mark the Centennial of the signing of the armistice at the end of World War I.

“As we get farther and farther away from these conflicts we tend to forget about them and those who served in them,” said Heikkinen.

“My grandfather served in World War I and always told me that I should serve my country,” she added. “It was his service that led to my service. That makes Veterans Day special for me.”

Written by staff