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Through the 11 of Us project, WNPR and CPBN's Institute for Advanced Media are sharing eleven personal stories from veterans and those in their community.In the series, veterans talk about their service and what it means to be a veteran.CPBN is hosting a clothing drive for veterans and their families in Connecticut. Bring new clothing with tags still attached, or gift cards for the purchase of new clothing, to CPBN at 1049 Asylum Avenue in Hartford, attention Mike Komrosky. The drive ends November 17.11 of Us is made possible by Victory Energy Solutions and New England Conservation Services.

Camaraderie Among Veterans Helps Marine Transition Home

Victor Suwatcharapinun
Nicholas Vaughan is an Iraq War veteran who served with the U.S. Marine Corps.
"There's somebody out there to help you. Reach out. And let somebody else talk you through what you're going through."<br><em>Nicholas Vaughan </em>

In the days leading up to Veterans Day, WNPR brings you stories from veterans and those in their community.

Nick Vaughan served with the U.S. Marine Corps and is an Iraq War veteran. 

"I think the first time I really, really had a sense that my actions had consequences that mattered was when I deployed for my first time. You can’t screw up. You can’t slack off. Like you need to put all of your effort into everything you do.

"My first two deployments were from 2004 to 2005 and then 2006 to 2007 both in Anbar Province and at that point I had come to the end of my enlistment.

"But with the way that the cycle had worked, there was nobody experienced that was going to be going back for the next deployment. Because I had those two tours' worth of experience, I extended my enlistment for another year just so I could go back and provide some leadership and experience to the people that were going over for their first time.

Credit Victor Suwatcharapinun
Nick Vaughan visited WNPR and talked about his service with the U.S. Marine Corps. He deployed three times to Iraq.

"I think I experienced some of the frustration that everybody else experiences as a veteran when you come back and you’ve put in all of this work and you see what you’ve accomplished and those skills aren’t understood in the outside world. And pretty much you’re starting from the same starting line as some 19-year-old kid that just graduated high school. You have to go through college and go through the whole process all over again.

"I was very lucky in that when I got out, I chose to move in with friends from the Marine Corps who’d gotten out a little bit before me. So I was able to take some of their experience and they’re like, “Look, what you’re feeling is normal. Like, don’t worry about it. Don’t fret. There’s ways around it.” It was a combination of those friends helping me wrap my head around the way my life worked now.  

Credit Courtesy of Nicholas Vaughan
Nick Vaughan (c) during one of his deployments to Iraq

"First and foremost you’re not alone. There’s somebody out there who has gone through, if not exactly what you’ve gone through, something very similar. Don’t hesitate to reach out. One of the things I’ve noticed about all the veterans that I've met since we’ve been out is we’re very eager to help people that are getting out. We don’t want people to struggle. There’s very much an attitude of 'we take care of our own.' There’s somebody out there to help you. You’re not alone. Reach out. And let somebody else talk you through what you’re going through.  

"So for me, Veterans Day is a chance to reconnect to the people I served with, and kind of remember the good and the bad of our old times together." 

Lucy is the Executive Producer and Host of Connecticut Public's morning talk show, 'Where We Live.' She’s a longtime public radio reporter covering several beats including immigration, juvenile justice and child welfare issues, education, veterans affairs and the military.
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