On Veterans Day, many reflect on acts of bravery, selflessness, self-sacrifice or patriotism. If you talk to Tim Moore, he might tell you about the quieter, less visible experiences a veteran has: Transition. Culture shock. Self-exploration. The depths of depression followed by the joy of community support.
Tim joined the National Guard in 1983 after graduating from the University of Massachusetts and working for a time in a community service agency. Over the next 30 years he served with the Guard in four different states, and served several years’ active duty as a medical lab technician in the U.S. and Germany.
“In 2005, while working with the Guard in Minnesota, I was in charge of medically clearing 4,500 soldiers for deployment to Iraq,” said Tim. “When I finished, they cleared me to go to Iraq too.” Tim spent his 50th birthday in Camp Shelby, Miss. undergoing hot-weather training. “Shortly after that, I went to sleep in a big iron bird. When I woke up, I was in Iraq.”
Recounting his experience in Iraq during a time of war, Tim is measured, fair and somewhat removed. “It was a positive experience,” said Tim. “I learned a great deal and met a lot of good people. I saw some of the horrors of war, and was injured.” Tim returned to the States for medical treatment, and upon re-joining civilian life, discovered some aspects of his pre-war life simply didn’t make sense to him. “I was hyper-sensitive to sound. I was hyper-vigilant. I didn’t trust anybody, and I couldn’t go near large crowds. I had all the signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, but I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t have anybody around me who I trusted enough to tell this to. I felt so out of place—you’re not going to believe this—I wanted to go back.”
“You leave whole, and some of us come back in pieces,” Tim said. “Everyone else stays the same, but you don’t.”
Tim’s father passed away shortly after he returned from Iraq, and Tim became withdrawn. He struggled for many months and fell into depression. After a time, Tim found his way to a veteran’s home in St. Cloud, Minn., where he decided furthering his education would be his next step. He heard good things about MCTC’s Veteran’s Upward Bound (VUB) program, so he investigated.
“When I visited, I met the staff at VUB, and that was the beginning,” said Tim. “For the next three semesters that I was with VUB at MCTC, they were always encouraging. They never judged me—just encouraged me to ask questions of myself.”
Tim found he had a penchant for math. “When I started with VUB, I was at a crossroads with math. I worked with one of the math instructors at MCTC, Ursula Walsh. She encouraged me to focus more, and helped me clear my head.”
In the spring of 2013, Tim worked with VUB advisors to apply for graduate school, and hit a bump in the road. “I found out I had an outstanding loan—from the year 1900,” said Tim. “With help from a VUB advisor, Russell, I learned when the University of Massachusetts switched to a computerized system in the mid-80s something went wrong in my file. It took two months to sort it out, but after that I was able to apply to grad school.”
Tim spoke at an anniversary celebration for MCTC’s TRIO programs recently. Veteran’s Upward Bound, one of five TRIO programs at the College, celebrated 40 years with MCTC, and Tim shared his story with a rapt audience of around 100 attendees. “The strongest thing I ever did,” Tim said at the anniversary celebration, “was learn how to ask for help.” Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison joined the celebration by way of pre-recorded video, and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak proclaimed Oct. 15, 2013 to be TRIO Day in the city of Minneapolis.
This fall, Tim began graduate school at Hamline University in St. Paul. His goal? To become a math teacher.
“It’s not enough to have a fire,” said Tim. “You have to have focus. Veteran’s Upward Bound helped me find my focus.”