DATE:  November 8, 2005
CONTACT: Lynn Perry, Coordinator of Veteran Affairs, (361) 825-2331; or Steve Paschal, Public Affairs, (361) 825-2336

Military Experience Helps Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Graduate Student in School and Professional Life
SSgt. Darryl Donaldson one of 16 veterans to be featured in video presentation

As a graduate student working on his master’s degree in psychology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Darryl Donaldson knows all about stress. Both as a graduate student and as a former employee of the University’s Bell Library, he understands the pressure on the faces of students who face deadlines and long hours of research. And, in his current job working with the Nueces County Department of Family Services, he’s seen first-hand the effects of stress on families trying to stay together under difficult personal and financial circumstances.

But, unlike many of his classmates and co-workers, Donaldson has an ace in the hole when it comes to handling pressure. In his 13 years of active duty in the United States Army, Staff Sergeant Donaldson learned to deal with situations that few who have not served in the military can imagine.

Donaldson is one of 16 veterans and University students featured in a 12-minute video which will be shown during the University’s Veteran’s Day Ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 11 p.m. in the University Center, Legacy Room. The tribute will include a keynote address by Navy. Lt. Jeff Hanson a veteran of “Operation Enduring Freedom” and a master’s student at the University.

In addition, faculty member Flicka Rahn will sing the national anthem and there will be an ROTC demonstration, musical performances by Charles Vasquez and Eddie Olivares, Sr., and a patriotic duet by students Jessica Galbraith and Dee Donasco.

As a supply sergeant stationed in Kuwait, it was Donaldson’s job to make sure soldiers fighting just over the border in Iraq received everything necessary for their safety and comfort, from ammunition to food, clothing and living quarters. It was a responsibility he took seriously and the composure and discipline required have better equipped him to face the pressures of the civilian world.

“The thing the Army taught me most was the ability to function under stress,” said Donaldson. “When I was in Kuwait the job had to get done because people were depending on me. “It didn’t matter if I was tired or sick. The job had to get done.”

In his position with Family Preservation Services, it is part of Donaldson’s job to visit families in difficulty to assist them in getting the help they need to remain together whether it is finding affordable daycare, helping families apply for food stamps, or directing them to agencies that can assist with financial and emotional problems.

 “My military training prepared me for this kind of work,” said Donaldson. “Before I joined the Army I lived in a small town where everybody was the same. But when you’re in the military you meet and get to know people from different cultures and it helps you understand their point of view. A lot of the people I deal with are really stressed out and my experience has prepared me to better help them.”

Eventually Donaldson would like to teach psychology at the college level. But even a Ph.D. won’t be a greater source of pride than the years he spent serving his country.

“It was an awesome experience I’ll never forget,” Donaldson said. “Now that I’m back people are interested in hearing about my experiences. To sum it up, I’d say I’m proud; the experiences I had in the army have really raised my level of pride.”

Other veterans and current University students featured in the video include Navy Petty Officer 3 Nicole Burns, Air Force Staff Sergeant Bryan Warden, Marine Corporal Lupe Rodriguez, Army Sergeant Brandy Silvers, Marine Lance Corporal Carlos Gaytan Jr., Navy Petty Officer 2 Joseph Neal, Army Major John Robles, Navy Lieutenant Heather Barackman, Navy Petty Officer 2 Brad Tiefel, Marine Sergeant Joshua Roman, Marine Corporal Eric Micah Hoggatt, Army Specialist Danny Hoyle, Navy Petty Officer Carrie McKnight, and Army Sergeant Ronald Rayos.