Salute To Service: Benjamin Blume
Nov. 11, 2019
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Haney
This November, as Sam Houston State University observes Veterans Day, meet the campus vets that have exemplified the motto, “The measure of a Life is its Service,” in our Salute to Service Series.
Blume is a senior international business major and a United States Army veteran. He worked as an 11B-P Infantry (rifleman and SAW gunner) and bomb dog handler. During his time in active duty, he served two tours in Afghanistan, was stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia for training and airborne school, and was a member of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado and 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
T@S: Why did you choose to join the military?
BB: I was looking for a change in my life when I joined in 2010 and felt joining was the right choice. I was one of those kids who felt a calling to serve since I was young and thought it was the right time and had a sense of duty.
T@S: Reason for coming to SHSU?
BB: I am originally from Texas and was ready to be on my home turf for a while. I was also a prior student at SHSU before joining (I am a much better student now). I figured I would stick with a place I knew and found the right degree for me that offered many opportunities. There is also a great study abroad program here and that was something I wanted to do.
T@S: How do you feel about veterans being considered a minority group on campus?
BB: We are definitely a minority, but that doesn’t stop many/most of us from trying to adjust back to a normal civilian lifestyle and blend in with other students and our friends. For some of us it can be hard to adjust and deal with certain situations or conversations.
T@S: Are your peers aware of your military past?
BB: My beard, long hair, tattoos and bracelets usually give me away. I keep it to myself most of the time unless people or other vets ask. I want to be treated with the same expectancy as my peers. I have made many friends since being at SHSU and while abroad and all of them have treated me great, whether they knew I was a veteran or not.
T@S: Current jobs or activities?
BB: I have been a big part of the SHSU study abroad program by going on seven study abroad trips. I just got back from a semester abroad in New Zealand. I have been able to go on faculty-led, semester-long and independent programs to countries like New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Germany, UAE and Switzerland.
T@S: What do you want your civilian peers to know about your service?
BB: That me, my brothers and sisters in arms served and still serve in order to give our country and its people the best opportunity to live a life of freedom.
T@S: Do you think people have misconceptions about you?
BB: As mentioned before, I am a 6 ft. tall, bearded, long-haired, tattooed, bulky guy. I feel most people get intimidated by that, but I try to be super nice and friendly to everyone.
T@S: How has your service history impacted your academic life?
BB: It has impacted me a lot by making me be more mature and diligent with my studies and how to handle them. I start projects as soon as they are assigned and do what I can to excel in my classes. While I will not confirm or deny that I can get rowdy sometimes, I know how to be responsible and make sure things are done on time.
T@S: How easy/difficult was your transition from the military into an academic setting?
BB: I feel it was easier for me than many other vets. I left the Army knowing where I was going and had plans for what I’d like to do. There are things that people who leave the military have a hard time adjusting to, like the group effort and the “Brotherhood” phrase as well. While I do miss my fellow members and some of what we accomplished, I am glad that my body and I don’t have to go through that anymore.
T@S: Do you think you can identify a vet by appearance?
BB: Many vets wear grunt style t-shirts, military hats, or carry military backpacks with patches and such. Many of us also have tattoos or injuries that leave us disabled and noticeable. Many of us are also more open in classes and speak up when in discussions.
T@S: Do you have a hard time relating to your peers?
BB: I am almost a decade older than most of my classmates so there are many things that they say or do that I might not always understand or relate to. It was very hard to branch out when getting back to school, but I had an amazing group I worked with at the Veterans Resource Center where I worked for about two and a half years and joining a group on campus. These things helped me open up even more through the last three years and now I walk down the hall and see someone I know almost every time.
T@S: How has SHSU aided in your transition?
BB: The school was very straight forward with what was needed, and the Veterans Resource Center was a great help in letting me know what I needed to do before and while I attended. Since coming to SHSU, I have become a different person, made loads of friends and had many experiences I will never forget.
T@S: Are there specific programs at SHSU for veterans?
BB: The Veterans Resource Center is a great place to start for a vet or family member to get help finding their way at SHSU. There is the ROTC for members looking to continue their military lifestyle/career. There is also the Collegiate Veterans Association which is a group on campus that helps each other out where they can. Vets are welcome everywhere as far as I know though.
T@S: Future goals?
BB: I graduate in December and have started to train to do the Appalachian Trail starting in late March/early April. After that, I will be attending school in Colorado for adventure education. I hope to someday work for an outdoor gear company doing nothing but testing gear in the outdoors. Here’s to hoping that dream comes true!
T@S: Anything that you would like to say/add about your time serving?
BB: I matured quite a bit during my time in, but can still get rowdy every now and then until about 11 p.m.
T@S: What does, “The measure of a Life is its Service” mean to you?
BB: Service to me is doing the right thing. We may not all make history books, but knowing you’ve done good in the world is something that we should all treasure and teach others to live by helping each other.
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