In recognition of Veteran’s Day, we’ve gone to our archives to reflect on some of the amazing OSU people who’ve combined education with military service. We salute our veterans and value their contributions to both the nation and our university community.
When junior Kyle Hatch arrived at Oregon State after serving six years as a Marine Corps medic, he realized there was quite a bit he could do to help build a community among the 700 veterans and dependents here. He became the Director of the Veteran’s Affairs Task Force of ASOSU. He also became the treasurer of the Veterans and Family Student Association, and serves on the Veterans Affairs Advisory and Working Group committees. We recently had the chance to talk with Kyle about his experience in the military, as well as what he’s doing to create more resources for veterans on campus. OSU’s ROTC Veterans Day ceremony will be held Friday, Nov. 12 at 11 a.m. in the MU Quad.
Where are you from?
I’m from Myrtle Point, which is on the Oregon Coast. I graduated from high school in 2002 and joined the military the same year.
What made you decide to join the military?
My senior year of high school I worked in the Surgical Services at the hospital in Bandon, and I knew I wanted to get into medicine. There were people at the hospital who had been medics in the Marine Corps. They pushed me in that direction.
What did you do in the military?
For two years I worked in an intensive care unit at Balboa, which is in San Diego. It is the biggest of the Naval hospitals. I then transferred to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in Camp Pendleton in California. I was the Corpsman, or medic, for Kilo Company my first deployment and was attached to the 3rd Platoon. My last deployment I was one of the Senior Corpsmen for Kilo Company. So I was responsible for the Marines in the entire company, rather than just a platoon.
Did you feel like you bonded with these soldiers in a special way because you were taking care of them?
Yes. It sounds like possessiveness, but whenever we refer to our Marines they’re “our” Marines, and they look at us as their docs. During my first deployment I remember going to a casualty during a firefight, and turning my back to the firefight. My Marines stood in between me and where we were getting shot from. So they would take the bullet if anything came from that direction.
What made you decide to go to OSU after your six years in the service?
Oregon State University is one of the best science universities in Oregon. They’re very well known for that. Being that I’m pre-med, this is the best place to go.
How did you end up getting involved with Veterans Affairs at ASOSU?
During the opening of the Veteran’s Lounge I met with Gus Bedwell, who’s the ODVA representative for OSU, and I met with Ben Price, who was the ASOSU Director of Veteran’s Affairs last year. I really saw they were doing great things. Being as patriotic as I am, I really wanted to fight for the veteran community, and I thought this was the best way to do so.
What would you like veterans to know about campus resources that they might not be aware of?
For one, there’s a Veteran’s Lounge where they can come and study, and hopefully feel safe and relaxed to do so. It’s also a place they can meet other veterans who went through similar experiences.
There’s a new program that Megan Wright created. It’s a mentorship program called “Company O.” Mentors are vets who have been at OSU a year and have a background in various branches of the military. It helps service members transition to OSU and civilian life much faster.
What other projects are you involved in?
I’m working on a student-led support group for veterans. I understand that veterans, including myself, have a difficult time talking to others about the nit-and-gritty experiences they’ve had. I hope to have this support group functional beginning Winter Term.
One of the campaigns I’m working on now is Veteran Appreciation. I’m selling t-shirts that say, “I may be orange but I bleed red white and blue,” with a military memorial and a military member paying their respects. I’m working on a mass pre-order that I will send out Nov. 30th for printing. The t-shirts will be sold for $12. All the money made will go to the Veterans Lounge and other programs aided in helping out veterans.
What made you so passionate about this? Did you realize there was a need when you arrived here?
When I came here, whenever I asked for help on anything, I was directed to several different places and didn’t find much resolution. I know LBCC has a one-stop-shop where any veteran can go and find anything they need. OSU doesn’t have that, but we’re getting better. Tracy Bentley-Townlin, the associate dean of student life, helped put together an amazing website and brochures that provide information for new students. I wish I’d had that when I started.
I’m also working on getting into the Student Experience Center, to make a place where veterans can go and actually figure out all the information they need in person. I plan on making that office be OSU’s veteran one-stop-shop.
What are your future goals?
I plan on going to medical school. I’d eventually like to go into a surgical residency, and eventually become a trauma or orthopedic surgeon.
Anything else to add?
There will be a Veteran’s Day social, from 11:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. on November 11th in the Veterans Lounge in the MU. The Vice Provost Office for Student Affairs provided the funding for OSU Catering to bring food and drinks. VFSA and I are really appreciative for the support from Dr. Roper and his office. The social will be an event where veterans may come and meet members from different veteran organizations and other veterans who are attending OSU.
There will be a re-grand opening of the Veteran’s Lounge this coming Memorial Day. Also, if people are interested in my weekly Veteran’s Affairs Task Force meetings they can come to the meeting or be put on my listserv to find out what is being worked on. Anyone is welcome. Just contact me, at firstname.lastname@example.org, for details.