Veteran Success Story: Brandon Barthel
As a parachute rigger in the United States Army, Brandon Barthel always felt a pull toward a lifesaving career. After completing his service, he knew he wanted to find a location with four seasons and lots of trees, and a college with a solid paramedicine program and great veteran resources. That led him and his wife to Flathead Valley Community College. Without any friends or family in the area, The Barthels moved to Kalispell in 2013 so Brandon could enroll in the paramedicine program at FVCC.
“The FVCC staff was very helpful in the transition from military back into school. I actually wish that the transition had been that easy for everything else, because it wasn’t, but FVCC made the transition to school very easy.
Having the Veterans’ Center on campus has been so nice! Most of my homework has been done there. If I find out that there is a new Vet on campus I will ask them, ‘have you met Sherry Taylor over in the Veterans’ Center?’ This is an area that is all ours where only Vets are allowed. I was accepted with open arms here. It’s that camaraderie that we had in the service that you kind of miss when you get out. We have it in the Veterans’ Center, and it doesn’t matter what branch you served in.”
I think it’s important for other veterans to know that is easier than they think to get back into school. The Veterans’ Center is very helpful in showing you how to use your GI Bill, how to fill everything out, and how to get everything accomplished. There are not many jobs on the civilian side for parachute riggers. I’m not the only military occupational specialist that comes out of the Army like ‘okay what do I do now?’ Go back to school and figure out what you want to do.”
Veteran Success Story: Rob Daniels
“I had a difficult adjustment period coming out of the service, and honestly, I didn’t think it was even possible for me to go to college. With the help of FVCC instructors and staff, I was able to ease into classes. I had a lot of encouragement from the Math Lab, the Writing Lab and the Computer Lab – they were all so patient with me. The class sizes are small here, so I had individual attention when I needed it. Now, I’ve been here over two years, and I’m nearly finished with my degree.
The best part has been the camaraderie I have found through working with the FVCC Veterans’ Center. It’s like a family – I feel like a ‘part of’ again, rather than ‘apart from.’ We might have been in different branches, but we share a common bond and a common experience.
If I could tell other veterans who are considering college one thing, it would be: ‘Why not?’ It’s one of the best decisions you’ll ever make, and it will give you a sense of self-worth and achievement. What I found out in life is that the only way I’ll fail is if I don’t try. Doors are opening for my future that never would have if I hadn’t just taken that leap and had the support of the school which pushed me to keep going. I’m excited about my future again.”