Before enlisting, Colin Lewis had desperately wanted to get out of Mississippi.
“There’s not really much to do there,” Lewis said of his home state.
Lewis needed a job to do that, and the men in his family had a tradition of service. He enlisted and was deployed to Afghanistan as a combat medic.
Now an electrical engineering and computer science major, Lewis served as both an Air Force firefighter and an Army combat medic.
“I was in two places, Bagrum, in the north, and the Kabul airport—just south of that. When I first started, we were doing ambulance missions and evacuations for the critically wounded. Every ten minutes or thirty minutes, we we had critically wounded getting shuffled. And we responded to any emergencies,” Lewis said of his day-to-day duties.
Despite his background, Lewis chose a major far from the medical field.
“I hate the medical field. Everything about it. You see everybody at their worst, all the time. It was just depressing,” Lewis said. “I saved up two or three years of leave, and came back to school while I was still active duty for a whole semester.”
At first, Lewis felt isolated and struggled to transition.
“It was a big transition. It was tough. … I couldn’t make friends—I was full Army. Everybody else is kicked back and trying to go to school. … I’m just now building friends outside of the veteran community,” Lewis said.
Lewis found support in the community of vets at ARC through both the VRC and the on-campus Veterans Club.
“It’s always easier when you have somebody who has been through some of the same things as you,” Lewis said. “I think it’s important for veterans who have no other place to turn to come (to the VRC) and find a place that’s here for nothing but to benefit them.”