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The Democracy Project: Battlefield Experience 101

Re-posted from this website.

Active and veteran members of the armed forces who understand the serious demands of academic and military life were featured in a forum held during the Honors Conference this week.

“Soldier-Citizens and Academia: Engaging Democracy and Learning at NGCSU in a Time of War” was held Wednesday at the Library and Technology Center on campus.

The veterans who spoke were John Risley (Army), Alexander Gupton (Marines), Sterling Baldwin (Army), Steven Hugon (Marines) and Thomas Scott Level (Army).

The five covered a variety of topics, including what democracy is, what made them join the military and what role education plays in a member of the armed forces experience on the battlefield.

Gupton said, “Education can help you, but it can also hinder you. Enlightened ideals can keep you from making good decisions. Sometimes you just have to respond on instinct, because over thinking can get you into trouble.”

Risley added, “If you see a civilian that looks like a farmer, you have to consider the fact that he’s coming to kill you. You can’t just blindly follow orders [i.e. shoot on sight]- that’s a recipe for disaster. Sometimes you have to use your discretion.”

Another topic discussed was the importance of leadership and the lack of awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“Learn about the symptoms of PSTD. Learn about the disease,” Risley said. “Because chances are somebody in your platoon is going to have it.”

Level said that “You have to set an example and be an advocate for everyone in your platoon.”

The Soldier-Citizens and Academia forum was sponsored by The American Democracy Project, Phi Alpha Theta, and the Political Science Students Association.

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