Donald Stockton joins the #YearOfTheVet family with a strong urgency to help the veterans trying to integrate back into the civilian world—by coaching them on the best ways to use their time in college.
A Seabee at heart, Don now serves as a Veteran Advocate primarily through a program implemented by the Department of Veteran Affairs named VITAL, as their Outreach Program Specialist; as well as the President of the University of Nevada Veterans Alumni Chapter.
Through our conversation, Don takes us through the hard times that forced a tough decision of whether or not to sign the papers to get back into the service—and move forward in his career as a reservist… and shares the hardships of trying to be a student, when he frankly wasn’t ready for that role yet.
But as most vets that come to share their stories on here will dive into… there was a SIGNIFICANT bounce back from the man he had once looked in the mirror and hadn’t recognized, to the hero he’s become today.
I first met Donald in Reno at the California Disabled American Veteran’s State conference, and was instantly drawn in by the phenomenal resources that he shared with me that the Nevada colleges have adopted for their student veterans, so if you’re skimming through show notes to find which episode to listen to—and you may want to know more about what other colleges in the nation are doing… this is the one to pay attention to… and then go over to Jose Roman’s conversation and fill in any gaps of missing information there!
I had a blast talking to Donald, so much so that we stayed on the line for another half hour afterward… and I highly encourage you to reach out to him using the contact information at the bottom of the page!
What veteran resources looked like when Donald had first went to college in Reno after the Navy, and what it looks like now (7:06)
How veterans can become an asset to the community after college (10:32)
Pre-Navy Don (11:26)
Why not do what you’re good at? (12:10)
How JROTC led Don to join (13:58)
When America declared war… (17:05)
How being colorblind carved his career (21:02)
“ If you’re not a part of people’s teams, they’re going to ask you to leave”
… c’mon guys… grow up… (21:23)
Struggling between enlistments (22:56)
The challenge of being reserve (27:27)
How life can make you re-enlist (30:55)
Learning by experiencing looking for a job in the civilian sector (34:59)
“You gotta look at where you went wrong, and make adjustments, because if you’re always in the feedback loop, you’re never going to move out of it and move up…”
The tightness in the chest (37:49)
The second time around: Explaining the “Weekend Warrior” (40:26)
A brief explanation of Seabee history (42:04)
Perfecto’s perfect timing (45:25)
How the Student Veterans of America National Conference changed the game… (47:35)
V.I.T.A.L (Veterans Intergration To Academic Leadership program) (51:19)
If you earned it… USE IT! (55:08)
“If you think you’re country owes you an education, you have an attitude problem. They didn’t do this for any generation since WWII—until yours. If on the other hand, you feel you owe the American people who gave you wings, via your academic success… I think we’ll all become better veterans—and a country.”
- Gen. Eric Shinseki
Life after VITAL…? (57:17)
Alumni Chapter of University of Nevada (1:04:20)
A call to action (1:08:01)
What Don would tell other vets who are struggling to find themselves today! (1:10:25)
The art of Fencing (1:12:48)
Retrospective Don (1:17:24)
Shout out to:
Cesar Melgarejo with the governor's office in Nevada. Thanks for all your help & Perfecto Manuta for opening your doors to this level of advocacy!