Veterans at YSU: Travis Fiest Shares His Story

By Christina Young

Travis Fiest served in the U.S. Army for nine years. He spent 26 months in Iraq and a year in Korea before having to leave the military to health issues. Photo courtesy of Travis Fiest.

With Halloween behind us, and with Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, it is easy for another important holiday — that came and went on Nov. 11 — to fall between the cracks: Veterans Day.

Youngstown State University is a school rife with veterans, and Travis Fiest, a 28-year-old freshman, shared his story about transitioning from life in the military to life in college.

Fiest was a human resource specialist in the Army for nine years.

“I spent 26 months total in Iraq, between two tours and a year in Korea, so I was away from my loved ones a lot,” Fiest said.

Fiest said he had to eventually leave the military because of medical issues. Because Fiest had grown accustomed to a rigid schedule while serving in the military, his transition to civilian life was not an easy one to make.

“I wanted to retire, but when I was told I had to get out because of medical issues, it devastated me. Coming back was a culture shock,” Fiest said. “Now I can do what I want, when I want. And my schedule is just a lot more lax, and it takes some time to get use to that.”

The YSU Office of Veterans Affairs has helped Fiest with his transition to college life by assisting him with receiving his benefits.

“The VA Office on campus helped me with my GI Bill, and just the whole process of attending classes on campus along with any emotional support if I needed it,” Fiest said. “I am now on track to hopefully graduate in the up-and-coming years with a degree in telecommunications, so I can pursue my dream of becoming a radio personality.”

The Veterans Affairs Office is available to anyone who is currently serving or who has served in the military. They assist veterans in enrolling at YSU, applying their GI Bill to tuition and generally assisting veterans and their family members transition into the college community.

YSU also has a new Veterans Resource Center, which just opened this past September. The center is available to assist student veterans with their various needs while also providing comfort and a sense of community — giving them access to comforts like a 55-inch TV, furniture, gaming systems and a kitchen.

“I am just so thankful for what the Veterans Affairs Office at YSU has done to help me throughout this process,” Fiest said. “They have made me feel more at ease with my decision of attending the university.”