Jason Stewart was serving his country as an Army sergeant on active duty in Iraq when on April 27, 2010 his life was forever changed–his truck was struck by an IED that killed his best friend and an interpreter and wounded two others. “A lot of the blame was inward but I’ve realized that I had no control over that and I did everything that I could,” said Jason who was the commander of the lead vehicle when the explosion occurred.
When he left the army and enrolled at the $$Florence Campus using the Post 911 Montgomery GI Bill, he was having a tough time making the transition back to civilian life. “[During] my first class…I rarely spoke. I had too much going on in my mind– I was on edge, hypervigilant, and I was just worried about school itself and everything else,” Jason recalled. But his class in ethics began to help him come to terms with his experiences in combat. “It was like I was meant to be there—it definitely helped me cope with the transition and cope with my feelings. That’s what really sold me on American National University.”
[img]Jason also began to meet fellow veterans on campus who supported one another. “I made friends almost immediately and with that came comfort and ease. Most of my friends are veterans…being a veteran and having veterans [who] go here is an absolute benefit,” said Jason. “It makes things a lot easier because you really can’t empathize with a veteran unless you are a veteran yourself…words can’t describe sacrifices made.”
Jason said that he feels American National University understands the needs of veterans because President Frank Longaker is a veteran himself. “It’s got deep military roots. That was part of its appeal, as well—how friendly the staff and faculty and the school itself was to veterans. The president is a veteran—Special Forces Vietnam. He’s done and seen some incredible things. They have an understanding of what it is to be a veteran and the sacrifices that come along with that.”
Jason is thriving in his studies now with a 3.7 grade point average in his business administration-management and office technology professional programs. “American National University sees me as I [am] now—not who I was before so I didn’t have to try and be anything else. I just have to be me,” he explained. He isn’t sure what direction his career will take when he graduates next year but he said that he would like for it to be one that will make a difference in other’s lives. “I don’t want it to be just another job. I want it to change people’s lives. Working for American National University would even be something that I’d be interested in because it changed my life. I love the college for that reason.”
Jason Stewart is pictured speaking during the Florence Campus’s Constitution Day Ceremony in September about his experience serving in Iraq.