Veteran of success
After six tours aboard aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea,
Armondo Escalanti, a senior criminology and criminal justice major, came to
Northern Arizona University to complete his education. However, the 14-year
veteran of the U.S. Navy found himself facing unique challenges as he
transferred from military life to academia
have a lot of life experience, but finding people to relate to - to just talk
to - I think is the biggest obstacle that veterans face.”
through his roles as a Veteran Peer Mentor and the president of the NAU Student
Veterans of America (SVA), Escalanti works to ensure that veterans and their
families have access to the resources they need, and truly feel at home at the
Helping fellow veterans
Escalanti explains that his motivation for helping fellow
veterans succeed and transition smoothly stem from his own experiences and
“When I first came to NAU, one of my instructors was an Army
vet himself, so he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes,” Escalanti
says. “This made a huge difference for me.”
Unfortunately, the transition isn’t always so easy. That’s
where Escalanti’s work comes in. As a Veteran Peer Mentor, Escalanti works
directly with new student veterans to give them advice and direct them to
helpful resources, like the Office of
Military and Student Affairs.
“Veteran Peer Mentors are another tool that you have, another
person you can go to for pretty much anything that you need as far as going to
school here,” he says.
Not to be content with helping student veterans in only one
capacity, Escalanti’s role as president of the NAU chapter of the SVA is
another facet of support. Here, he helps organize events to encourage
interaction and friendships among NAU’s veterans.
“Last semester we organized an event at the NAU challenge
course, and we do a lot of other leisure things like bowling,” Escalanti says.
Chapter of the month
The NAU SVA chapter isn’t just fun and games though. Under
Escalanti’s leadership, the chapter was recently awarded the Chapter of the Month
distinction out of more than 950 chapters across the United States. Escalanti
credits the work being done by his chapter to reach out to Native American
veterans as a factor leading to the recognition.
“We’ve been advocating for Native American veterans, and
the reservation is our neighbor,” he says. “As a Native American myself, and
I’ve been voicing my opinion on how Native Americans are not being reached as
far as veterans go. It’s been a really positive experience.”