“I remember I was in high school getting ready for classes and 9/11 hit. Within that next week, I was in the recruiter’s office talking to him, ‘How can I get in and serve my country? Tell me the steps'," said Halmos College biology major Timothy M. Chamberlain about enlisting in the United States Army.
My grandfather was in WWII in the marines and my uncle was also in the air force for 20+ years, but [what drew me in] was really 9/11. I remember I was in high school getting ready for classes and 9/11 hit. Within that next week, I was in the recruiter’s office.
I was 17 so my mom and dad still had to sign off that they were ok with it. It was only going to be for four years. Here I am 14 years later, and I’m still in.
I don’t take summer classes because [I'm still active]. My army positions require 110% of my attention and there’s no way that I can split my efforts, which is really convenient about the type of unit and the position I am with now. In 2014, I was accepted into Special Operations Command - Africa as their all-source intelligence technician. We cover the entire continent. I usually spend anywhere from 45-60 days [stationed out of Stuttgard, Germany] depending upon the needs of the army. Since this new unit allows me to do everything during the summer, when I’m out, I can focus 100% on school.
The thing that I really enjoy about my role now is that I am responsible for training, mentoring, and guiding the junior soldiers. I enjoy being able to take my experience and my training back to them, what I’ve learned over the course my career–things that work well, things that don’t–so there is collective understanding. We all depend on each other for overall success.
I have been very lucky to have had some of the best senior leaders that I could ever imagine finding. I am still in touch with many of them. Even though I’ve been in as long as I have, I still reach back to them, 'I’ve got this issue, I’ve got this situation, what are your thoughts on this?'
Listen. Just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean you can neglect your subordinates. Some of the people that I’ve been in charge of have had some of the best ideas. So just because you are in charge of something doesn’t mean you need to think that everything you say is golden. Listen to everybody. Don’t make hasty decisions or judgements without understanding everything.
In my field, when I make a decision, and when I give an assessment that affects my commander’s decision, I have to know exactly what’s going on. The assessments we make affect decisions that can put lives at risk. So I don’t take those things lightly at all.
My goal is to go into veterinary school, so I’ve learned to take that [lesson] and apply it. Whenever we look to do something medically, I always think, 'Ok, well if we do this, what are the second and third order possible effects that we could be looking at?'
On the professor side, that’s the one thing that I’ve really learned throughout my career in the army: You really need to take the people that have done this for a while, and listen to what they have to say because they’ve been there; they’ve done that. They’ve hit the roadblocks that anybody starting off fresh in a field is going to hit; it’s inevitable. So learning from their mistakes, their trials and tribulations will help make you more successful.
So I do what I can to try to listen to my professors – whether it is on how to do research, how to write a research paper, or how to get things ready for a publication.
[Veterinary school] was always one of those dreams that was a dream. To me it was never attainable. I never thought of myself as being smart enough, or patient enough. I am glad I waited and that the army called to me first, and that I have experience as a police officer as well.
It’s funny because everything kept bringing me back to animals. On my last deployment, even though I was working in my field, in the army, I was still volunteering and working with our local veterinarian whenever I could. I went into surgeries with him to help in sterilization clinics in Kosovo. So, everything kept bringing me back to animal care and veterinary medicine.
If I do get into veterinary school, I will transition out of the intelligence field that I’m in and convert over as an army veterinarian.
As an army veterinarian, you are responsible for the health and welfare of all military working police dogs. You are also the local veterinarian for the military housing community at each installation, basically a small animal practice.
I worked with military working and police dogs on the force, and those animals are some of the most loyal, dedicated creatures. They would give their life to protect their handler.
So that’s really what I want to do. That’s how I want to give back to them and thank them for their service. We can pin medals on the dogs all day, but that doesn’t make an impact on them. Quality of care and quality of life is really how we can thank them.
I had a few different school options. NSU’s focus on the health sciences is highly regarded for preparing students to get into the medical field and it really was my deciding factor over going to FIU, FAU, Barry, or UM.
I also chose to go to NSU because the small class sizes are ideal. When I was in California, the university I attended had 150+ students in my biology class. You’re just a number. The professors don’t know who you are, so when you go to them for advice, you have to remind them what class you’re in.
At NSU, the professors know you. They know how to work with you. They learn how each student learns things better, and they are able to tailor that. It’s not a cookie-cutter class. That’s why I chose NSU.
The biggest thing that veterans, in my opinion, miss when they leave the service is the brotherhood you have with your unit. The brotherhood through the military and then carried over into the veterans community is something that, as a military member, I aspire to find everywhere I go. I miss it. So one of my goals is to bring together all of the veterans in NSU’s community – graduate students and undergraduate, staff and faculty.
Another goal was to have a home for veterans when they come in. Now the veterans resource center is completely revamped. (Opening event photos)
I see the Veterans Resource Center as the start of a major culture change, and all of us are beyond excited to see it grow. Veteran culture is a way of life. But we also want to share it.
Having an accelerated orientation for incoming freshmen is also ideal. And [the administration] made that happen this year. That is perfect. Most of us work, have families, so time is valuable. Now veterans get their feet in the door. 'Here’s NSU. Here are the services that NSU can offer you. If you are a veteran, please fall in line here and we will tell you everything specific to veterans that doesn’t pertain to other students.'
Most undergraduate students are straight out of high school in their late teens and very early 20s. Your student veterans, while they might be freshmen, are older. They are experienced at life in general. They have been to war. I don’t want special treatment by any means, but just the understanding that when you are dealing with a student veteran, we understand things a little differently than your typical 18, 19, or 20-year-old college freshman or sophomore.
Another goal of mine before I leave is to have a big brother/big sister type of mentorship program so any veteran coming in gets linked up with another veteran within their same field of study.
I also would eventually like to see a scholarship program established for veterans. It doesn’t need to be anything big and fancy, but help provide extra incentive to infuse the community with the brotherhood bond again. [Perhaps award one] for the most community volunteer hours. Whether it’s just enough to buy a book or two, every little bit helps.
Overall, our goal over the next year is to really get the veteran’s voice loud and heard in every corner of NSU’s campus.