GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — More than 370 UWGB students are veterans or active service members, and they're getting the most out of their education while serving their country.
Veterans Week is getting underway at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with the Reserve Officers Training Corps. unveiling a new rappelling event Wednesday at the Kress Center, along with a number of other activities for veterans, their families and members of the public.
UWGB Finance Major and Marine Corps. Veteran Austin Ostby says he's mostly looking forward to spending time with fellow veterans and hearing from students and teachers.
"It's hard for us to do. Being a veteran itself, there's a lot of things you don't see that veterans drag on afterwards. So, during that week, it's just kind of nice to be recognized, saying "Thank you for your service," and really being able to feel like you did something and that baggage you're carrying on your back wasn't just for nothing," Ostby said.
Ostby served an extended tour and was deployed to Romania, Greece and Norway as a water support technician and ultimately ended as a staff sergeant.
He then went on to be a canvassing recruiter in Eau Claire, experiencing firsthand the military's greatest struggle to attract new recruits—especially during the pandemic.
"A lot of people say they're interested, but they're mostly interested in doing the cool things. It's like the call of the duty, it's like, "Hey, I want to have a gun or ride a tank or be active in it," but don't want to actually do it. They actually have other references and plans for their life," Austin Ostby said.
Despite recruiting struggles, Ostby and fellow UWGB student veterans like Asael Cordova and Jonathan Rossmiller say their service is something they'll always cherish.
"Would you do it again," asked NBC 26 Today's MacLeod Hageman.
"Yeah, I would still do it, because there's things I learned about myself along the way, and I wouldn't be doing the things that I'm doing now if I never chose that path," Cordova said.
"Yeah, I would. You miss the clowns, but you don't miss the circus in a sense. Having the camaraderie and everything that brings you together with the core values, you can really instill it in any part of your life," Ostby said.
And, with the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas—Ostby and Cordova say they follow their training by focusing on what they can control, like their school work.
"It's just something that's going to happen. There's always going to be conflict in the world. There's nothing much we can do to combat it, but only recognize and do what we can to sustain it or lower it down," Ostby said.